Wis. town's first responders triple up on duties

Officials said the public safety model of first responders acting as firefighters, police officers and EMS providers helps decrease response times

By EMS1 Staff

PALMYRA, Wis. — A small town is changing their first responder model by hiring one person to be a police officer, a firefighter and an EMS provider instead of having separate departments.

TMJ4 reported that due to budget cuts, the town of Palmyra is hoping to decrease response times by hiring public safety officers.

"We can put somebody on scene faster," public safety director James Small said.

The change allows the town to hire more paid staff members as opposed to relying heavily on volunteers like they’ve done in the past.

"We're able to keep our ambulance in service, we're able to get our fire engine on scene quickly and have enough staff to do that," Small said.

Small added that the change is also about looking at public safety in a more holistic way.

"People who are trained in EMS are trained to think about outcomes. They're trained to think about long-term strategies more so than 'Hey, I took the report, it's done and now we're on to the next thing,'" Small said.

He also said that crime is down 32 percent since 2013, and it’s because public safety officers are treating criminal offenses as a symptom of an issue that needs to be treated.

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