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Ft. Mitchell & Erlanger Looking to Share Employees, Improve Services

Leaders in Ft. Mitchell and Erlanger are exploring ways to improve and enhance the current Kenton County Mutual Aid agreement that provides emergency backup and coverage during fire and ambulance events, and are urging other Northern Kentucky communities to do the same.

Citing a shortage of trained EMS and paramedic personnel, the two city departments are working to develop a plan to share employees, equipment, supply purchasing, EMS protocols, and Standard Operating Guidelines. In an announcement, the cities argue that the effort would improve efficiency and quality of service.

The plan is being led by Fire Chiefs Gary Auffart of Ft. Mitchell and Todd Whitaker of Erlanger and involves addressing employee pool shortages, and what they call "unnecessary duplication" of equipment created by two separate departments. 

"It's time we stop stealing resources from each other, end the ever occurring duplication of apparatus and equipment, and start finding a way to work more efficiently together," said Whitaker, in a news release.

"This is a step to enhance the current Mutual Aid agreement between our cities," said  Auffart from Fort Mitchell. "We have an opportunity to receive the same training, share a medical director, a training officer, an EMS coordinator, and increase our ability to respond to emergencies which will improve the safety of our employees on scene."

“Public safety is our number one responsibility,” said Ft. Mitchell Mayor Jude Hehman. “We have had increasing difficulty in retaining personnel who are often hired away by a larger city, or even to hospitals or large corporations. By collaborating with the City of Erlanger and Mayor Hermes, we can strengthen our level of service and save taxpayer dollars without cutting any services.”

“Paramedic and personnel shortages are hitting everyone, it is not just a big city problem,” said Erlanger Mayor Tyson Hermes. “By working together with Fort Mitchell and perhaps other cities, we believe we can improve our staffing position and save the taxpayers money as costs increase for major capital equipment.”

The cost of emergency equipment and personnel is rising.

“A new fire truck can cost one million dollars which is a huge burden for local fire departments,” said Hehman. “We hope more cities will join with us to collaborate and support each other as we face today’s workforce and budget challenges. We are facing challenges staffing the equipment we currently have for round-the-clock service to the citizens, and we do not want to find ourselves in a situation where we do not have the personnel to staff a truck. The equipment doesn’t save lives, our first responders do.”

“With the duplication of services within Kenton County’s twenty municipalities, it is a big step forward toward collaboration and developing a new model for delivery of emergency services to the communities in which we serve,” said Hehman.

“The department chiefs of Erlanger and Ft. Mitchell are to be commended for their thoughtful work, together in collaboration, of mapping a plan for dealing with this personnel crisis, while at the same time charting a course for the future that will benefit all the citizens in our communities,” said Hermes.

-Staff report

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