Watertown council makes progress cutting back on EMS calls

City council talks EMS calls

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - There’s been progress in the city of Watertown’s plan to scale back how many EMS calls its firefighters respond to.

It came during a Monday night work session with council members and city first responders.

The council’s plan is to reduce the fire department’s EMS response and have Jefferson County provide Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) services to the city.

EMD is a national system to determine the severity of different emergency calls. The county provides the service to other towns and villages, but not Watertown.

Guilfoyle Ambulance handles its own EMD, while the city fire department automatically responds to all EMS calls its responsible for.

“That EMD protocol that you go through takes a finite amount and that happens on every call,” Fire Chief Matt Timerman said, “so there is a time penalty that has to be paid if you’re going to do EMD.”

“Everybody paints every call as a doom-and-gloom call and it just isn’t,” Mayor Jeff Smith said. “I think we have to be cognizant of our resources as we move forward in the city. It costs money to respond to calls.”

The city is drafting a resolution regarding EMD. City council members will discuss it further at their regular meeting next Monday.

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