Pittsburgh paramedics union issues statement on rescue work

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The Pittsburgh paramedics union says is has resisted the transfer of rescue work to the fire bureau because of concerns that rescues won't be handled appropriately.

"Rescues often involve delicate extrication efforts where paralysis or other severe medical complications can result if a person is not medically treated correctly," Tony Weinmann, union president, said in a statement Wednesday.

The city says the change is in the best interest of public safety, partly because it would improve response time and free up paramedics to put on additional ambulance crews.

But the union Friday voted down a contract proposal that would have shifted some of the work. It says all paramedics currently involved in rescue operations should be part of a new plan to provide rescue services.

Many firefighters have some medical training, but generally not as much as paramedics.

"Paramedics have performed medical rescues for 37 years and should continue to do so, unless the city will insure that rescues are medically directed with sufficient personnel in the paramedic bureau," Mr. Weinmann said.



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