YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Youngstown Fire Department has gotten the protocol it needed in order to respond to medical calls when ambulances are unavailable, but there is one more hurdle it must overcome first.

The Youngstown Safety Committee discussed it at its meeting on Thursday. Fire Chief Barry Finley said the department got the necessary protocol or “standing order” from University Hospital in Ravenna.

“When you function out in the street as an EMS provider, you have to function under a doctor’s orders, and protocol is a doctor’s orders basically saying if you have this kind of patient, this is what you can do, if you have this kind of situation, this is what you can do,” Finley said.

Now that the department has the protocol, the fire union is requesting a change in its contract before performing these services. Finley says he understands why they want the change and agrees it should happen.

“It’s a change in working conditions… when we’re providing first responders, we should meet with them and we should negotiate,” he said.

However, his concern is the service provided in the meantime. Although there is a period where the union and fire department can negotiate before the end of its current contract next year, Finley says he doesn’t want the residents to suffer in the meantime.

“I took the oath to protect this community, I don’t think the citizens should have to wait while we negotiate. I would like for us, in good faith of course, I would like for us to provide this service when AMR doesn’t have an ambulance available. I would like for one of my ambulances to respond while we’re working through negotiations,” he said.

Assistant Law Director Daniel Dascenzo stated that the union workers can be ordered to perform the service but will have the right to file a grievance with the union if they wish to do so. However, he says performing these services is already listed in their job duties.

“In their job descriptions, providing emergency medical services is in there,” he said.

Finley says the fire department currently has 17 paramedics and 27 EMTs.