Vermont City Looks to Pay Firefighters Overtime to Combat Rise in Overdose Calls

The City of Burlington, Vermont is taking a bold new step to help combat the “crushing number of overdose calls” that they respond to daily. According to WCAX news, the Burlington Fire Department is requesting the City Council allocate overtime funds for two city firefighters to work twelve hours per day, seven days per week staffing an emergency response vehicle designated to respond to reported overdoses or unresponsive patients. This vehicle would respond in place of the typical fire department response of an engine or ladder company and an ambulance for certain specific calls. The response vehicle will carry Narcan and other essential medical equipment that could be needed by the firefighters if a patient is suffering from an overdose.

This new tactic, which Fire Chief Michael LaChance calls “bold,” allows the department to meet the needs of the citizens they are sworn to protect while maintaining an appropriate number of resources for other possible emergencies that may occur. In the event the emergency response vehicle needs additional fire department resources [i.e., ambulance or additional personnel], they can quickly be summoned to the scene by the firefighters staffing the emergency response vehicle. The department hopes the city will fund the program by using $200,000 from an opioid settlement. The City Council is expected to take up the issue at tonight’s meeting.

Here is the full story from WCAX News, Burlington.

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