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'We’re at bare bones now, we need more EMS units' BCFD say they're overworked and understaffed

Posted at 9:12 PM, Dec 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-18 23:14:24-05

BALTIMORE — COVID-19 is testing the resiliency of our front-line workers and they are answering the call valiantly.

Rich Langford, the Firefighters Local 734 President said the fire department has always had to do more with less.

“We’re at bare bones now, we need more EMS units, we have to keep all these companies open," said Langford. "We provide the best service in the city that’s been show in every survey over the last 5 years that the city does.”

It takes a special kind of person to be a firefighter or EMS worker in Baltimore City.

“They do this job because they love this job, it’s not really a job it’s a career it’s a calling. They come and do this because they want to help people. They want to see Baltimore city get better.”

Baltimore City has a database of all the calls for fire service.

In it you can see just on December 16 there was six high priority calls.

This doesn’t include EMS and calls that aren't high priority.

“We have 35 vacancies in EMS," Langford said. "We’re one of the busiest EMS systems in the country and it’s really starting to take a toll on our members.”

They don’t get to work from home or get an hour or day off for the holidays.

The pandemic means extra precautions constantly cleaning equipment, wearing PPE, and being around people who are sick.

“All this while you’re worried about having to take this home to our families,” said Langford.

Langford said every person can help by not calling, unless you have an emergency.

He's hopeful the new city administration will get a contract done soon.

“Our contract expired in July. We’ve been working with the former Mayors staff to get it done but we haven’t been able to get it done. Mayor Scott has said he’s going to get in here and get it done quickly for us so hopefully that will come along.”

I filed a Maryland Public Information Act with the city for COVID-19 case stats and for the number of vacant positions.

I’m waiting to get that back.

“We have seen a steady increase over the last 3 months to where we’re over 180 members now that have tested positive. That just wears on you knowing you’re coming into work to do your job, to protect the citizens of Baltimore but you’re also worrying about everyday life. Taking this home to your families. Going home and dealing with everything every other American is dealing with. Teaching your kids and everything else that comes along with this pandemic.”

We're working to answer the call for the men and women who always show up.