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Cleveland working toward EMS and fire integration
Unions have been negotiating plan for nearly two years
by WKSU's GRANT ENGLE

Reporter
Grant Engle
 
In The Region:

The union for Cleveland’s paramedics has voted to take the first steps toward integrating firefighters and EMS workers.

Supporters say the integration would shorten response times for accidents and fires.

The vote by the Cleveland Association of Rescue Employees allows the city to create three combo units that will have an integrated staff of firefighters and paramedics.

Stephen Palek, president of Cleveland’s paramedics union, said integration is the best way to counter the lack of funding available for emergency workers.

Stephen Palek discusses why integration is important

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"We have to figure out ways to consolidate, streamline and be more efficient. The money just isn't coming from the state like it used to. And, we have to figure out how to do more with less."

Palek says the unions for the two groups have carefully looked at logistics such as pay and cross-training, and even with the recent vote, the full integration may take a few more years.

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