WARREN, Pa. – Warren City Council voted 5-2 to expand an emergency medical services arrangement between the City of Warren and Pleasant Township at its regular October meeting Monday.
The agreement expands the current pilot program from three days per week to five. Council members Gregory Fraser, Christian Zavinski, Phil Gilbert, Doug Hearn and Mayor Maurice Cashman all voted in favor of the proposal, with John Wortman and Paul Giannini against.
“I’m glad that people have started to recognize the problem,” said Warren Fire Department Chief Rodney Wren. “We’ve made the rest of the county take a look at their call numbers. We have brought attention to the problem in the county and people are working on it.”
Currently, the program has two city firefighters stationed in Pleasant Township from 7:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
That will now expand to five days per week to include Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“It’s a win-win situation,” said Cashman. “A cooperative agreement works to the benefit of both parties.”
The proposal was tabled last month, and Wortman tried to do so again at Monday’s meeting, but failed by the same 5-2 vote.
“Without having seen all the data, I don’t believe we can make an informed decision for our constituents,” Wortman said. “Personally, I don’t feel like we’d be doing our job if we didn’t have this information. I’m concerned that it could lead to citizens we represent not having the level of care they deserve.”
Wortman’s argument didn’t sway most of the council, as Giannini was the only other member to vote ‘no.’
“The argument you made John, doesn’t hold a lot of water,” said Cashman. “We’ll have more equipment and more coverage. The current law obligates us to go anywhere, anyway.”
Fraser also brought to light another point in favor of the proposal.
“I think there’s an additional factor that is not being discussed,” Fraser said. “We are getting paid by the hour to have those people there. That is a revenue stream that is beneficial to our taxpayers. Instead of going out to a required call because Pleasant doesn’t answer, we are at the mercy of insurance companies for compensation. Under the current arrangement, we are guaranteed payment by Pleasant Township. We’d be getting fully compensated for five days. That’s a benefit for the city taxpayers.”
The pilot program runs through Dec. 31.
Cashman asked Wren about the likelihood of Pleasant Township extending the program beyond the end of the year.
“They are very, very pleased with it,” Wren said. “It does look like they will be amenable to an extended agreement.”
City Manager Nancy Freenock noted that council should know where Pleasant stands in the near future.
“We’ll have a pretty good idea what Pleasant is thinking soon,” Freenock said. “They are going through their budget now.”
Wren added that he wasn’t sure the exact date the expansion will take place, but that it will be soon.
“We’re going to start having those conversations in the morning,” he said.