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Fate of First Responder Program again up for discussion
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McMinnville’s First Responder Program will be up for discussion again Tuesday. A Safety Committee meeting will begin at 6:25 p.m. to address problems with the program.
 Chuck Haston, 911 director, will be at the meeting. His department dispatches first responders when medical calls in the city are received.
“I think the program has been overtaxed,” said Haston. “One of the things we are discussing, in lieu of canceling this program, is reducing the number of calls the first responders are called out on.”
Haston says he is in favor of only calling first responders in cases where they can be a benefit.
“Those calls would be ones where CPR might be needed because the person is not breathing,” Haston said. “Also, medical events such as unresponsive and traumatic injury. It is just overkill to have them responding to each and every call.”
Another problem voiced by city officials is the Warren County Emergency Management Service has control over the city’s First Responder Program.
“The problem is this is a city-funded program, but it is under the control of Warren County’s Emergency Management Service,” said Vice Mayor Everett Brock. “If they say come, we have to go. We can’t say no.”
Haston says Brock is correct about who determines which calls first responders answer.
“The things we send first responders to is determined by Warren County Emergency Services,” said Haston. “By state law, they say which calls the program goes out on. I have spoken with Brian Jennings. He is in favor of limiting the number of calls, instead of paging them to everything.”
Jennings, who is EMS director, said in a letter to McMinnville Fire Chief Kevin Lawrence, it doesn’t matter to him what calls first responders answer.
“It will be up to the individual fire departments to make a decision to go or not,” Jennings wrote in reference to what calls should be answered.
While considering the 2011-12 fiscal year budget, city administrator David Rutherford recommended the program end nine days ago. Officials have yet to make a decision on that recommendation.