The Baltimore City Fire Department is experiencing a shortage of firefighters and EMTs. According to the fire union president, it’s so bad that it’s affecting response times and transports to hospitals.
Baltimore City Firefighters Local 734 Union President Rich Langford went on Fox News and tweeted about a case involving a 12-year-old hit by a car in Baltimore City. He said it took nearly an hour for an ambulance to respond. Baltimore City Fire Chief Niles Ford is now responding.
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“It’s something that we’re actually investigating, but that day we had a very, very, very busy day,” he said. “It does appear that the ambulance showed up about 50 minutes afterwards, but we have to keep in mind that our suppression units are EMTs, and they are paramedics. At the time that they arrive on the scene, they’re there to render care.”
However, both Langford and Ford agree there is a staffing issue.
Langford said the department is about 7% understaffed, meaning 40 EMS personnel and about 30 firefighters are needed.
Ford said there’s a lot of variables involved and that it’s not just a Baltimore City issue.
“Fire departments from the east coast to the west coast are actually offering signing bonuses— $1,500, $4,000, $5,000 because it’s so hard to get,” he said.
The city doesn’t offer any signing bonuses right now, but the department is keeping the application process open.
The department used private ambulances to pick up the slack early on in the pandemic. They’re considering doing that again. However, Langford said that solution shouldn’t be the only answer.