"And, when we were fourth on scene to a structure fire approximately 10 houses down the street from the firehouse at 3 a.m. because we were on a bogus medical aid call at a woman's shelter for a 25-year old female who had been feeling ill for three days, it really grates on me to know that there are people like you who actually think that most firefighters WANT to do EMS." "EMS is a necessary evil in the fire service." Sacramento Firefighter Aaron Dean.
A former high ranking member of the Goldsmith administration once told me that the former administration had considered privatizing the EMS services as a cost-saving move, but the resistance within IFD and its union was more than Goldsmith was willing to tackle. Similarly, I worked on a project several years ago, along with a private consultant, for a northwestern Indiana city, where we identified millions in potential savings by privatizing the EMS services. That plan got dumped as well because of union and departmental resistance.
Other cities around the country have privatized these services, and it's typically not welcomed by firefighters and their unions. "These are tough economic times and local governments are being forced to reduce spending," Andrew Rand of Advanced Medical Transport of Illinois told Peoria Magazine. "Today’s firefighters spend less than 15 percent of their time fighting fires." "They realize they have to find something to do with their time to justify their staffing levels and budgets. Frankly, they’re scared that the government is ultimately going to have to reduce their size."
About 85% of IFD's annual budget is for salaries, pensions and related personnel costs. If private companies like Rural/Metro can provide these same services within the City adequately and save taxpayers millions at the same time, it's an idea the Mayor and the city-county council should seriously consider. Given that the City-County Council is run by a high-paid firefighter, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for this to happen.