For a month, Wurtsboro firefighters have answered some medical calls in defiance of their commissioners’ orders. Now, the board of commissioners has relented – for 30 days.
Last month, Wurtsboro’s fire commissioners ordered firefighters to stop going to medical calls for breathing difficulties and possible heart attacks, saying they could only answer actual cardiac arrest calls. The concern, Commissioner Bill Lothrop Jr. said, was liability if something went wrong.
The firefighters kept responding to back up the Mamakating First Aid Squad, since they can often reach a call before the ambulance. The fire rescue truck is equipped with oxygen and an automatic defibrillator.
Fire Chief Paul Champagne says some of the firefighters have CPR and defibrillation training, which appears to be the only training needed for what they’re doing.
The dispute came to a head Thursday night, at a heated commissioners meeting. Firefighters asked the board to relent and to help get them the medical training. Champagne said about 20 firefighters want to take the class.
After initial objections by Lothrop, the board agreed, stipulating that only firefighters with CPR certifications will touch the patients. The commissioners will reconsider the issue next month.
Heather Yakin