Greenville Fire-Rescue saving lives quicker with staffing changes

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Greenville Fire-Rescue began experimenting with a new staffing model that placed more ambulance units on the street, reduced response times and doesn’t cost any additional tax dollars.

The department implemented the change on July 20 after Chief Eric Griffin noticed his ambulances in the downtown and medical districts were experiencing high call volumes while getting fewer breaks between calls.

“Late at night, they were getting really sleepy on calls,” Chief Griffin said. “You don’t want to have a professional behind the wheel sleepy on calls.”

The downtown and medical districts had three ambulances staffed by three paramedics.

Chief Griffin, along with his senior leadership and advice from a consultant, took a paramedic off each vehicle to create a fourth ambulance and a quick response medical vehicle.

He said the model moves around paramedics to keep staffing levels the same while not costing additional tax money.

For now, it’s only being tested in the two districts.

Preliminary numbers indicated the change has reduced response times by 45 seconds and allowed more paramedics to work a scene.

Lt. Jeremy Anderson said paramedics were initially skeptical of the changes, but they have grown to like it.

“We’re just trying to be very progressive in the way we’re providing our services and making sure we’re using the taxpayer’s money to best serve the citizens of Greenville,” Lt. Anderson said.

The department plans to soon expand the model to the rest of the city.

9 On Your Side will keep track of the changes and the resulting effects on emergency medical care in the city.

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