New medical emergency response system pending in Syracuse

Some important changes are in store for the way the Syracuse Fire Department and Rural Metro Ambulance Service respond to medical emergencies.

The agencies have been working with the Onondaga County 9-1-1 Center to streamline the dispatch system so that the Fire Department could end up responding to up to 5 thousand fewer calls.

Currently, fire rescue personnel show up at

medical emergencies that could be anything from a life threatening heart attack to a minor bump on the head.


fire apparatus will show up at the same call as a rural metro ambulance. Some city leaders feel it's a waste of resources for firefighters to be handling minor medical problems.

On Wednesday

fire chiefs went before members of the
Syracuse Common Council to explain how the new system will work. Deputy Chief William Elderboom told councilors, "now when someone calls and they say I bruised my finger 3 days ago, we''re not going to take an important fire department resource and take it out of service and send it to that house. We will allow the ambulance service to handle that alarm."


here are three priorities for emergency response.


One is for life threatening situations like heart attacks or bad accidents. The fire department will always go to those calls.


Two is for such things as broken bones or certain maternity issues. Rural Metro will be dispatched to such calls along with fire rescue personnel if needed.


Three is for minor medical issues like sickness and bruises. Under the new system, only an ambulance would handle those calls.

Syracuse Fire Chief Paul Linnertz told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon, "We're not changing anyone's ability to get help. We are simply prioritizing the that we are available for the emergent call. We're not going to be tied up with someone with the flu. We're going to be available for the heart attack."

Linnertz says the new system has not yet been implemented because of a technical problem with the computer software at the 9-1-1 center.