YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Members of the Youngstown Professional Fire Fighters IAFF Local 312 are frustrated with American Medical Response’s (AMR) response to a fatal accident and a fatal fire Thursday.
“It put everybody’s lives at risk that AMR was not able to provide the basic service that they are already contracted to do,” union president Jon Racco told First News.
A letter sent out by Racco read, “IAFF Local 312’s members had another fast-paced and dangerous shift yesterday, responding to emergencies all over the city.”
The letter goes into detail saying that the fire department responded to a “horrific” accident with multiple trauma victims, spanning over several blocks, but only one AMR ambulance was available.
The accident happened around 7:30 p.m., then around 11 p.m., fire crews responded to a fast-moving fire. The letter states that no ambulances responded to the fire, despite reports that occupants were unaccounted for, and the fact that fire crews were working “under incredibly dangerous conditions” to locate the home occupant.
Fire crews found one person dead in the fire.
“We were at this fire for nearly five hours, we did not have an ambulance available to come to us. This fire was an occupied fire, our firefighters did very dangerous work last night,” Racco said.
Racco wrote, “The situation is unacceptable and Youngstown deserves better.”
Racco says it seems like AMR is putting out a ransom request to the city and he doesn’t think the city should pay them.
“Scratch that idea, put that money back into your fire department, invest that money into our fire service and create a fire-based EMS system. The firefighters aren’t going anywhere, we want this place to stabilize,” Racco said.
At a town hall meeting Wednesday, Youngstown Mayor Tito Brown said he was willing to talk with the fire union and try to work out a plan with them, but that he doesn’t want to make a public spectacle of it.
“If you’re ready to really, seriously talk about meeting, to negotiate about first responders, I’m at 26 South Phelps Street, president, vice president, whoever wants to come, I’m ready to talk about it,” the mayor said at the public meeting.
However, Racco says they have tried to meet with the mayor but have been ignored.
“We keep hearing, ‘well we’ll sit down, we’ll sit down,’ but it’s not happening. It’s not. We have multiple requests since September to actually even bring in federal mediation, to sit down and try to work these issues out, and we’ve heard nothing from this city,” Racco said.
The letter also mentions that crews had to respond from other areas of the city to assist with the fire because Engine 2 had closed for the shift.
First News reached out to AMR Friday, as well as Wednesday after the town hall was held to discuss the contract between the city and AMR and the $1.8 million subsidy that AMR wants to continue servicing the city, but we have not heard back.
Currently, AMR is providing the city with four ambulances but that deal is being negotiated. If the city agrees to pay a $1.8 million subsidy, it will go down to three ambulances. If they pay $2.6 million, AMR will provide four, with a 5% increase each year.