Metropolis first responder service suspended - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Metropolis first responder service suspended

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METROPOLIS, Ill. -- Firefighters want to warn residents that the department will no longer be responding to medical emergencies. This comes after the city's announcement to temporarily suspend the fire department's first responder service, which has been in operation since 2000. 
Metropolis Firefighter and Union President Blaine Funkhouser worries emergency wait times will increase. 
"They could be waiting up to an hour for medical attention," said Funkhouser. 
Currently, the ambulance service is limited. Two ambulances are available before 11 p.m., but after that time there is only one. Funkhouser says wait times could mean the difference between life and death. 
"We all know if it's something major like a heart attack or stroke, you only have a certain amount of window that you need help in, and that was what we were for. >
According to the mayor, state regulations requiring minimum staffing caused the city to make the change. Funkhouser says that in order to respond to medical emergencies, two firefighters need to be available. Firefighters wanted to come up with a solution for situations in which there aren't enough first responders in-house. 
"We need to fix that hole so we can provide this service 24/7, seven days a week, and the response that we got from the city was 'well we're just going to cut that service out completely,'" said Funkhouser. 
That decision has left many firefighters frustrated. 
"Like today, we have two guys in the station on duty, but we're not supposed to run medical. So why would, even on days when you have two and could run medicals, why would you shut that program down? We don't understand," said Funkhouser. 
The Fire Department is still taking calls for car accidents or other accidents involving entrapment.  Other emergency calls will be directed to the Massac Memorial Hospital EMS. 
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