ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Albuquerque Fire Chief James Breen calls it the biggest change to AFD in 25 years: a staffing switch.
"If we can get a paramedic on somebody's front doorstep earlier, begin those interventions, we're going to have better patient outcomes and more lives being saved," Breen said.
Currently there are two paramedics on every rescue unit, or ambulance. The plan is to split them up, leaving one in the rescue unit and placing the other in a fire truck equipped with an advanced life support system.
Breen says shifting the staff around would more than double the number of AFD vehicles equipped for advanced life support, from 20 to 42, and could cut response times by 17 percent.
"A lot of cities have evolved to this point already, where they've expanded their ALS delivery system, and it's our time to do it," Breen said.
Before AFD can put this plan into action, the City Council has to approve spending almost a million dollars to purchase the new systems.
Breen says there has not been any outright opposition, but that labor officials have expressed concern about a new staffing model.
Diego Arencon, the president of the firefigthers' union, issued a statement to News 13:
As we are not fundamentally opposed, we do have concerns about this initiative being politicized and feel it requires the opinion and scrutiny from the professionals who actually perform the job (Paramedic Firefighters).
Some paramedics have expressed concern that this new plan could actually backfire in situations where two paramedics are needed.
Arencon met with an AFD deputy chief on Monday to appoint a committee that will provide recommendations to the Labor and Management committee about how best to implement changes in the department.
The City Council is scheduled to consider authorizing the money on April 1.
If the money is approved, Breen said it could take four to six months for changes to take effect.
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