The Killeen Professional Fire Fighters’ Association is not pleased with the city’s plan to eliminate an ambulance from “one busy fleet already struggling to provide optimum care.”
Its members made that clear in a statement issued April 13.
On April 12, Killeen city spokeswoman Hilary Shine issued a news release that announced the return of the Medic 22 ambulance to reserve status. The release said that Medic 22 could then be used in place of any ambulance that goes down for service or repair.
As a result, residents of north Killeen may begin to see a drop in service, the statement from KPFFA said.
“As firefighters, it is our job to keep this community safe,” said Marc Clifford, the association’s president. “Eliminating this important response unit will hinder our ability to provide the best service possible.”
The statement goes on to say that the department has exhausted all nine of its ambulances on 40 separate occasions in 2017, due to high call volume.
“It hurts us more than it helps. We’re operating with eight ambulances, not with nine; our response time is about 50 seconds faster” with nine ambulances, Clifford said in a phone call Wednesday.
In her release, Shine said personnel would have to be hired using overtime to maintain Medic 22 as a ninth, full-time ambulance. “Fire department funding will not support this expense,” she said.
This problem has been ongoing. In the beginning of April, the department lost the use of Medic 22 twice in three days, as the worst-case scenario provided in the staffing plan. When staffing fell to the minimum of 48 personnel, Medic 22 was taken out of rotation. That was something Fire Chief Brian Brank said is likely to happen often, according to an April 8 Herald story.
With Medic 22 now on reserve status, there is no ambulance removal as a part of the tier-reduction policy. Instead, personnel will be reduced on other trucks, Clifford said.