Winston-Salem Fire Department (NC) at Odds with EMS

Winston-Salem Fire Chief Antony Farmer says his department could save $145,000 — and potentially more a year — in fuel and vehicle maintenance costs if his department can stop responding to non-life threatening emergency calls, reports

The proposal is part of cost-cutting measures included in the budget proposal for next year. If approved, the fire department will begin the new procedure July 1st.

According to Chief Anthony Farmer, firefighters were dispatched to just under 20,000 medical calls, along with Forsyth County EMS, in 2012.

But, he says only about 30% of those calls were real emergencies. 

Farmer wants the 911 center to prioritize calls better so his department can determine which calls are life-threatening before responding.

“We have found that sometimes when the firefighters respond to residences, we get there and people are standing on the porch. Or in their door with suitcases ready to be transported,” he explained. 

Forsyth County EMS Director Dan Ozimek admits some of the medical calls both fire and EMS are dispatched to turn out to not be life-threatening, however, he says it’s not appropriate for the chief to “pick and choose” which calls to answer.

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