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EMS, Suburban Fire Resume Talks on Emergency Response

Wednesday July 16, 2014

Both agree to work through issues to protect the public

Leaders of the city’s EMS and Suburban Fire districts have agreed to resume discussions over how to best respond to medical emergencies across Louisville Metro, Mayor Greg Fischer announced this afternoon.

The two entities have been meeting for almost a year to reach an agreement in which suburban fire districts would continue to provide first response to the most critical medical emergencies in their neighborhoods, which they have been doing since the 1990s.

Fire departments — both in Louisville and nationwide — traditionally have been the first responders to medical emergencies because of their strategic locations through communities. Suburban Fire districts have the capacity to respond to medical calls since, on average, they have fewer than three fire/EMS runs in a 24-hour period. However, most suburban districts say they can’t financially afford to make the runs any longer.

The negotiations broke down in June when suburban fire notified EMS that, beginning July 1, they would only respond to a portion of the most serious medical calls dispatched by MetroSafe. The negotiations ended after the Jefferson County Fire Chiefs Association rejected a $1 million offer from Louisville Metro for suburban districts to cover their costs and continue making medical runs.

“Citizens deserve a fast, effective medical response, regardless if they live downtown or in Valley Station or Middletown. In medical emergencies, especially in heart attacks, seconds literally matter,” Fischer said. “I’m glad that both parties are back at the discussion table. We are all concerned about the safety of our citizens; we need to work through the complicated financial details.”

The city has 17 suburban fire districts, and four of them are still making medical runs as they have always done. In the case of the other 13 districts, MetroSafe continues to dispatch Suburban Fire when people’s lives are in danger.

EMS and Suburban Fire have been in discussion since November 1, 2013 and they will resume those meetings next Tuesday, Fischer said.