Conn. fire department takes over paramedic service

Paramedics will accompany firefighters, but transport will still be handled by AMR

By Mikaela Porter
The Hartford Courant

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — The town's fire department rolled out its new paramedic service Monday, a project decades in the making, according to Fire Chief Gary S. Allyn.

"Roll out's been busy, we've had several calls today," Allyn said Monday. Patients today have been transported to St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, Hartford Hospital and New Britain General Hospital, he said. "It's been a busy day and it's like any other new program, we're identifying some things we have to adjust and we're in that adjustment phase now."

According to a press release, when medical calls are made to the town's Emergency Reporting Center, police, fire and ambulance will respond. A paramedic will arrive in a fire truck and have medical equipment to provide life support. The paramedic will stay with the patient until they are transported to the hospital.

Previously, a paramedic from American Medical Response would also arrive on scene.

The fire department currently has 17 paramedics at three of the five fire stations — Brace Road, Albany Avenue and Berkshire Road. Allyn said in the next few months the department's goal is to have 20 paramedics on staff.

The town council unanimously approved switching paramedic duties from commercial provider AMR last September and in March, the state Department of Public Health approved the change. The town paid AMR $315,000 annually.

Ambulance transport services will continue to be done by AMR.

The town has used a little over $200,000 from a federal grant and money from the capital nonrecurring expenditure fund to cover $466,600 in paramedic equipment costs, Town Manager Ron Van Winkle said at a March meeting.

Billing to private insurers for the town's paramedic services is expected to generate $188,000 in revenue in the first six months, Chief Finance Officer Peter Privitera said.

"There's been talk here since the mid-1980s, back in that era, to do this," Allyn said. Allyn said other fire departments, such as Manchester and East Hartford, have a similar approach.

"It's exciting for the department, it's really changed the landscape for what we do," Allyn said. "We're a fire department that's 79 years old in its current configuration and this ranks right up there as being one of the big things that our fire department has done."

Copyright 2016 The Hartford Courant

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