By Paul Mangiola

Meeting with Chief of Department

On 1/9/01, the H3 Advisory committee met with Chief Tabacco, CD2 Chief Lee, Sections Chief Shortall, Battalion Chief McCallion, Local 798 President John Hanley and Director Tom O’Connor.


Vacancy List: Chief Tobacco agreed with Local 798 and EMS Administration to hold a vacancy sign up in mid February and to be implemented in early to mid March.

A New Paint Job, A New Outlook
Photo provided by Paul Mangiola
Everyone agreed that this would give morale a boost and bring some stability to the H3’s current work schedule. Final details will be worked out by the Chief of the Department.

New Hires: Chief Tobacco recognizes that we need more Paramedics however it appears that there will not be any more laterals hired in the near future. To gain more diversity, the department will pursue hiring H2’s with Paramedic licenses. The Chief hopes to have at least 50% of the new hires be Paramedics.

One and one: Chief Tobacco and the EMS Administration brought up “one and one” staffing of four ambulances for a pilot program. The Chief agreed that if implemented correctly, this would free up more Paramedics to go to Engine companies. Local 798 will discuss this with the Executive Board.

As Fire Departments all over the country integrate ALS service, each creating a system that will meet the needs of their citizens and workforce, departments like New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco are struggling to keep theirs afloat. With the relentless increase in medical calls and the lack of Paramedics to staff ALS units, departments are finding that, operationally, plans are changing daily due to staffing needs. Furthermore, long term ALS plans are almost impossible to consistently initiate.

A recent study done in Los Angeles found that due to a lack of Paramedics and the increase in call volume, stress and burn-out are depleting their Paramedic ranks. San Francisco appears to be no different, on any given day an average of 30% of the approximately 47 Paramedics scheduled to work are off due to SP, DP and scheduled vacations. This means that an already understaffed ALS system is stretched to the bare minimum. ALS engines are being closed to staff vacancies on ambulances when no other Paramedics are available. With the SFFD running on average, 210-220 medical calls per day, we could be heading into a similar situation as LAFD.

On a positive note, over the last 12 months this is what our new Administration, EMS and Local 798 have done to combat the problem:

• The continuance of PTP classes through the Presidio: As the ALS system continues to iron out its wrinkles and becomes more attractive to our membership, class size will hopefully increase.

• The cross-training of 111 H1 Paramedics to the H3 rank: all having gone through Treasure Island for their fire training. A final class is scheduled for late February, for those remaining who wish to cross-train.

• The hiring of a total of 76 lateral Firefighter/Paramedics over the last 12 months: All will work on ALS ambulances for at least the first year before seeing any ALS engine time.

• The increasing of 4 ALS ambulances when the BLS tier is closed, 1/30/01: Medics 32, 13, 29 and 38 will go into service.

• Ambulance fleet continues to be upgraded: 5 new ambulances will go into service shortly. This will account for less out of service time due to complications with old units, meaning more in-service unit hours on the streets.

• The implementation of a new vacancy list deploying 3 Firefighter/Paramedics per unit per watch helps keep ALS ambulances in service during shift changeover hours. Currently 50% of units are out of service during shift change.

• The implementation by Local 798 of the H3 Advisory Committee and the ability to meet routinely with the Chief of the Department and EMS Administration to work on H3 issues.

• H3 monthly forums: Open forums where H3 issues are discussed. Meetings are supported by Local 798 and attended by designated Director, Tom O’Connor. All meetings are open to all department members.


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