The move to have the Watertown Fire Department handle paramedic service in-house is a matter of quality of life, said Fire Chief Mario Orangio.
The Fire Department will hire four paramedics with a grant from FEMA, and some current members of the Fire Department will train to in advanced life support so the Watertown can provide its own paramedic service (read more here).
Right now the town uses Armstrong Ambulance, which is based in Waltham. When Watertown runs its own ambulances the response time will be cut down.
“The best thing is it will save time,” Orangio said. “We can get paramedics there at the same time as the first engine. It’s a quality of life issue for the community.”
Especially with medical calls on the East End of town, it can take some time for the Armstrong ambulance to get to the scene.
“We can respond and get them to (Mount Auburn Hospital) before (the ambulance) gets there,” Orangio said.
Getting the program up and running will take some time – about two years, Orangio said. The time will also allow the Fire Department to buy the equipment needed to provide advanced life support service.
The added costs, Orangio said, will be covered in part by the in-house paramedic service because Watertown will be able to collect all of the billed expenses, rather than sending it to the private ambulance company.