EDITORIAL: Fresh look at Meriden FD leads to improvements

EDITORIAL: Fresh look at Meriden FD leads to improvements


In order to cut costs, the Meriden Fire Department is now responding to fewer transport-only medical calls. This strikes us as a reasonable move, since the people who move patients to and from nursing homes or urgent-care centers — which is where these routine transport-only calls typically occur — are qualified to handle the transports without assistance from the Fire Department.

City Manager Guy Scaife said the plan was put in place in May, and that progress has been made in reducing these “unnecessary” responses.

“Significant cost savings can be achieved through limiting the dispatch of fire service personnel to only those calls requiring fire service presence on site,” Scaife wrote in Fire Chief Ken Morgan’s performance review, dated July 3. However, Scaife noted, “the progress was slower than expected and information regarding this effort was shared with me only when I requested it.”

The department has modified its policy, Morgan said, but it still responds to “critical medical calls,” such as reports of shortness of breath. “A lot of these calls we were going to were for a transport-only situation,” Morgan said. The change in policy has resulted in about 500 fewer responses this year, which “keeps units available to run more-urgent calls. That was the impact we were looking for. We want to get out to those individuals that really need our help.”

“It makes sense that they are not unnecessarily tying up their resources,” said City Councilor David Lowell, a member of the council’s Public Safety Committee and an executive at Hunter’s Ambulance.

This sounds like a sensible move that does not endanger the public, and the fact that Scaife, Morgan and Lowell are all on the same page on this matter is reassuring. This appears to be a case where taking a fresh look at the way things have long been done can produce improvements.

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