EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio (WKBN) – There has been a scramble in East Liverpool. Seconds count in an emergency, and the city only had days to figure out a new approach to providing emergency medical services. We went to the city on Thursday and talked to the chief about the change and why it was necessary.

A new direction for EMS in East Liverpool starts Sunday morning. The fire department will start operating EMS ambulances so that the city can keep ambulance services within city limits.

“They’ve all pulled together and it’s been all hands on deck since we received the notice March 6,” said East Liverpool Fire Chief Bill Jones.

The department has operated a public/private co-op since 2018, but the private side is ending the contract. It only gave 30 days’ notice, instead of the required 180.

Chief Jones credits the mayor, council, auditor and his staff for making this work on short notice.

“Everybody’s working together to the same common goal, which is to make sure resident has an ambulance and make sure they’re properly cared for,” he said.

East Liverpool participated in over 1,400 EMS calls during 2022, plus 600 calls requiring a fire truck.

An IAFF cost study has found the city can cover the costs of providing EMS. The department will bill patients’ insurance companies. No one will be denied if they don’t have insurance or can’t pay.

Two paramedics will be hired on Monday.

“Fifty percent of our department will now be paramedics, which is a very good spot to be in,” Chief Jones said.

It bolsters the department staff, taking it up to 16.

East Liverpool has two ambulances and a third will arrive in July. Everything else is in place.

“I think it makes it better because now we have full control over the personnel and we can set the guidelines as to what’s required of them,” Chief Jones said.

East Liverpool residents who need EMS can still call 9-1-1 or 385-11-11 to get emergency help.