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Labor Dispute Could Determine Future Of Emergency Care

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) --- A stalemate between Pittsburgh paramedics and the city could mean more than just a sticking point in a labor dispute.

According to city paramedics, one key issue is holding up their talks with the city and it could affect who treats you first in an emergency.

When a woman had to be rescued downtown last spring, both city paramedics and city firefighters worked together to save her.

A new proposal, however, would shift rescue work from the paramedics to the fire department putting vehicle rescue equipment on fire trucks.

Paramedics released a statement saying they have concerns about who should treat you on what conditions.

Should firefighters, with access to more equipment, be the responders? Or should the paramedics with more medical training be the first to respond to an emergency?

City paramedics say they need more basic life support units.

"We lost four BOS units in 2004 and we've been short with units the whole time," says Anthony Weinmann of the Fraternal Association of Paramedics. "We also need medic units and they've failed to provide that so need extra medic units and be apart of the rescue division as well."

"One advantage is that there will be more paramedics on the street," says Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. "One of the issues that we face is the limited number of ambulances and in some cases we have to bring some people in from outside the city to serve some of our calls. This would free up ambulances to do that work."

City paramedics argue that they've done medical rescues for 37 years. The city says state officials are requiring this change.  

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