EAST PROVIDENCE — Often a sore point for his bosses in the city, East Providence Fire Department Chief Joseph Klucznik acknowledged as positive the recent Emergency Medical Services (EMS) changes instituted by his counterparts in Providence.
The EPFD has been a frequent contributor to the Providence EMS call log over the years, but hasn’t always been reimbursed financially for the assistance nor is the aid reciprocated as often.
In an effort to reduce its need to rely on its neighbors, Providence Public Safety Department officials recently reformulated its EMS response policy.
According to Chief Klucznik, it’s basically a two-tiered system designating non-emergency and emergency calls. Of the six Providence rescues, four are focused on ALS (Advanced Life Support) and two are aimed at BLS (Basic Life Support) services. It is now incumbent upon Providence dispatcher to determine the severity of the call before sending out an EMS request.
The policy change will hopefully put less of a strain on the PFD ambulance fleet and reduce the frequency of East Providence and other neighbors to be called into service.
“The EMS system is not about getting a ride to the hospital. It’s not about getting your prescription filled. It’s not for a headache,” acting Providence Fire Chief Michael Dillon said in a recent interview.
Chief Klucznik credited Chief Dillon’s effort on the matter, saying the two have kept in near constant contact attempting to address the matter during their time serving together.
“Without Providence, our ambulance calls would probably be cut almost in half,” Chief Klucznik explained. “We’re still answering the calls from Providence, of course, but hopefully not as often. And to their credit, they haven’t been.”
The issue of reciprocating EMS service came to the fore during the summer when East Providence, North Providence and Johnston leaders agreed to stop offering assistance to Providence due to spiraling costs. Only North Providence actually followed through on the threat, stopping mutual aid in September.
Chief Klucznik was never told to completely cease assistance, a decision he agreed with at the time, noting while Providence doesn’t offer the same amount of aid it does give East Providence back-up during important responses like the recent destructive house fire on Central Avenue.
“We understand Providence’s position, but Providence isn’t our main focus,” Chief Klucznik added. “Our main focus in on the residents of East Providence and our main responsibility is to the taxpayers of the city.”