City’s new ambulance in service

FIRST DAY — Preparing for the Steubenville Fire Department Emergency Medical Service’s first call on Sunday were, from left, Justin Boley,a Steubenville firefighter with advanced EMT qualifications and Bert Gaffney, a firefighter and paramedic, while firefighter and EMT Phil Williamson looks on. (Photo by Linda Harris)

STEUBENVILLE — Midway through their first shift on Sunday, Steubenville Fire Department’s new Emergency Medical Service had handled six call-outs.

That’s six calls the city’s mutual aid partners didn’t have to scramble to cover.

“We’ll respond to as many calls as we can with one ambulance,” Fire Chief Carlo Capaldi said. “But we’re still going to need help from them, and if someone needs our help we’ll help them as much as we can. That’s what mutual aid is for.”

Capaldi said they managed to pull it all together in record time–and with minimal cash outlay by the city–because they were able to use a chunk of money from Steubenville’s federal CARES Act allotment.

“It really helped us,” he said. “Without it, we would have had to take the money out of (the budget) and lease things. The (CARES) money allows us to start up with no long-term obligations, so we have no extra expenses right now, other than basic supplies — but six months ago we had no EMS equipment or transportation capabilities. To have two fully-stocked ambulances now and a third for backup (is incredible).”

Staffing has proven to be the biggest hurdle, he added.

“One thing we couldn’t get money for was staffing,” he said. “We were really counting on the SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) grant that would have allowed us to get two ambulances up and running right away, but we didn’t get it. The city allowed us to hire three men anyway, and that will allow us to get one ambulance up and running. Eventually, as revenue comes in, we’ll push for hiring additional personnel. I’m confident as revenue comes in, we’ll be able to support the six extra guys we need for the second ambulance.”

Capaldi said the department no longer has a dedicated dispatcher, pointing out, “We needed that person on the truck.” He said anyone with a fire or medical emergency should call Jefferson County 911.

“Our emergency lines have all been transferred to 911,” he said. “So anyone who needs help should call 911.”

Jefferson County 911 Director Rob Herrington said the SFD EMS service launch “definitely helps.”

“Oh, yes, it definitely helps. I think they’ve already responded to five or six calls,” Herrington said. “I think it will work really well.”

Capaldi agreed, saying, “It’s not going to be easy but we believe we can do it.”

“There will be some ups and downs, but we’re confident we can do it,” he said. “This is the result of a lot of hard work by a lot of people — it’s not just me, it’s not just the city. And all of the guys, everyone of them had to buy into this to make it a go.

“In the end, we’re doing it to serve the citizens, to provide a quality EMS service to the citizens. There was a need and we’re trying to help fill it, in every way we can.”


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