Watertown lawmakers to vote on firefighters’ response to medical calls

WWNY Watertown lawmakers to vote on firefighters’ response to medical calls

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Members of Watertown City Council are expected to vote Tuesday on setting a deadline that would end emergency medical response for the Watertown Fire Department next year unless Jefferson County provides what’s called EMD service - a system to determine the severity of emergency medical calls.

“In talking with some of the county legislatures, I don’t see the county supporting this,” said Council Member Lisa Ruggiero.

She says she will likely vote against the measure because she thinks it will reduce life-saving medical services to residents.

But Mayor Jeff Smith says Guilfoyle Ambulance already goes to all EMS calls and will continue to provide those services.

“There would be no lost service in terms of EMS so anybody who’s out there saying that people will not get EMS service, they’re lying,” said Smith.

Jefferson County Legislature Chairman Scott Gray has said providing EMD to the city fire department would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Smith says it’s a service Watertown residents already pay for in county taxes and fees.

“It’s provided to all of the towns and villages, their (Jefferson County’s) EMS response. It’s just not provided to city fire,” he said.

Fire union president Dan Daugherty says it makes little sense to take firefighters off EMS calls.

“It’s going to eliminate something that costs next to nothing to provide to the citizens,” he said.

Council is set to vote on this Tuesday at 7 p.m. at city hall. A live stream will be available on our website, wwnytv.com.

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