DC fire chief touts medic hiring at hearing

Councilmember Tommy Wells says he's not convinced the department has a handle on its personnel problems


The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Washington's fire chief says the recent hiring of nine new paramedics has alleviated some of the stress on the department.

Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe said at a D.C. Council hearing Wednesday that he's been hiring paramedics who are only certified to work on ambulances as a "stopgap measure." Firefighters' union leaders say more than 50 paramedics have left the department over the past 3 years.

Union leaders also say that even with the new hires, more than one-third of the city's ambulances are being downgraded because not enough paramedics are available. They say that stresses the entire system and results in paramedics being held over for 36-hour shifts.

Councilmember Tommy Wells, who chaired the hearing, says he's not convinced the department has a handle on its personnel problems.

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