Cleveland Mayor Announces Major Public Safety Change

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Cleveland firefighters will all soon be paramedics, and Cleveland paramedics will soon all fight fires.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson announced the integration of the city’s Division of Fire and the Division of Emergency Medical Service during a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

Jackson said the combination of the previously separate divisions will result in reduced response times for advanced life-support emergencies and increase the quality of care.

“A fully integrated Division of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Medical Service will capitalize on the strengths of both divisions, improve service delivery and better coordinate service for the community,” Jackson said in a statement.

Jackson on Tuesday swore in Edward Eckart as the new Assistant Director of Public Safety and Nicole Carlton as the new Acting Commissioner of the Division of Emergency Medical Service.

Current Fire Chief Paul Stubbs will retire on or about April 1, 2012, and the new, as-of-yet unnamed chief will oversee the integrated division.

The changes mean that all current firefighters will be trained as paramedics and all current paramedics will need to be trained as firefighters.

Currently, Jackson said, the response time for a firefighter is about four minutes, whereas the wait time for paramedics can be 10 or 12 minutes. The integration means victims will be able to receive advanced life-support care several minutes sooner.

The changes will be slow, Jackson said. They should be completed by the end of 2012.