Florida Firefighters Drop Cross Training EMS Program

Thirty Naples city (FL)  firefighters decided this week to pull out of a voluntary cross-training program with Collier County EMS, saying the program is no longer beneficial, reports Marco News.

While city officials say public safety is not at risk, some feel the decision shows an unwillingness on the part of the firefighters to cooperate in providing certain public safety services. It also comes at a time when tensions are running high between the city and the firefighters union — the two sides recently reached an impasse with contract negotiations.

The program staffed one city firefighter on a county EMS vehicle and one county EMS worker on a city fire truck during each shift. It also certified two city fire apparatuses to provide advanced life support instead of basic life support. Advance life support vehicles carry more drugs, according to city officials.

In an email to council, City Manager Bill Moss said the city’s advanced life support vehicles may be reduced to only offering basic life support if the swap agreement is broken. Contract language states that if the city’s participation begins to adversely affect patient care, the advanced life support vehicles can be decertified, Naples Fire Chief Steve McInerny said.

“Today they’re still operating as (advanced life support) units and I don’t see that changing in the short term,” McInerny said. “But as more and more members continue to voice that they no longer wish to participate, that will adversely affect the program.”

Moss said not all city firefighters have participated in the voluntary program, but those who do earn an 11 percent pay incentive each time they ride a county EMS vehicle. As of Friday, 19 out of the 49 firefighters were still participating in the program.

Among those who dropped out was Lt. Adam Nadelman, the union representative for Naples Local 2174. He wrote in a letter announcing his decision that the program had “reached a point where it will not advance our efforts.”

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