Peoria firefighters’ union calls out AMT’s alternative plan causing longer response times for non-emergency calls

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Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 10:23 PM CST
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PEORIA (25 NEWS) - Peoria’s Advanced Medical Transport put a program in place two weeks ago which delayed response times to some of the least urgent calls. The program made the Peoria Fire Department the primary responders to those calls.

None of this was reported to the public, the head of the firefighters’ union says.

“To not have that statement to the public... that’s troubling to say the least,” said President of Peoria Firefighters Local 50 Ryan Brady.

For 12 days in January, AMT put an ‘Alternative Response Program’ in place due to staffing issues and call demand.

“We did have fewer personnel available to work, but we did fill our shifts,” said AMT Vice President of Administrations, Deborah Roethler.

Roethler said this affected a subset of ‘Code 2′ calls, which are less urgent, making Peoria Firefighters the primary responders.

“We can’t have 150% of our regular call volume come in and not have any shift in what happens in service,” said Roethler.

AMT said this alternative response program affected 29 of their calls.

Brady said they firefighters were already down on staff and money.

“It creates a lot of worry for us as first responders especially on the fire department side,” said Brady.

Brady said they would tell people they might have to wait an hour for an ambulance, but AMT said no one waited more than 30 minutes.

How all of that was communicated was made clear to the people who had to wait longer, but not the rest of the community.

“When there’s an extended delay, the most disheartening thing, at least in my opinion especially as a city resident as a taxpayer, nobody came out and said hey this is what you should expect,” said Brady.

Reothler disagrees.

“This was a temporary measure affecting a minimal number of people to ensure the critical care needs of our community are met,” said Reothler.

The program is no longer in place and Reothler said they are now in a better position in terms of response times.

“Staffing challenges with COVID have subsided substantially and the spike in call demand has also softened quite a bit,” said Reothler.

But Brady says a conversation still needs to be had.

“Policymakers as they say, oh we got this ambulance that can pick up these calls. Well, if the ambulances (aren’t) picking up the calls and now the firefighters have to, something needs to be reevaluated because that’s not fair,” said Brady.

25 News reached out to Mayor Rita Ali for comment, but have not hear back yet.

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