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Lexington firefighters are facing a staffing dilemma

Lexington Professional Firefighters President Kevin Pletzke addressing Lexington City Council
Stu Johnson
Lexington Professional Firefighters President Kevin Pletzke addressing Lexington City Council

Lexington firefighters are facing a dilemma. Firefighters are acting as EMTs and paramedics and this can cause a strain on resources.

The City Council heard from a fire union representative who said around 1400 times so far this year there has not been an ambulance available when someone calls 9-1-1.

  Kevin Pletzke is the Union President. He said this problem is only getting worse.

  “It's happening seven or eight times a day now. Because the city has grown, the need for services has grown, our city is aging, we have some demographic challenges with nursing homes and things like that, that requires additional services. As that goes up, some of our resources have not been able to keep up as well.”

  Pletzke said it would take at least 12 new hires, on top of replacing anyone leaving or retiring, for them to fully staff an ambulance 24/7.

Tyler Scott is the Chief of Staff in the Mayor's Office. He said hiring more firefighters is a high priority for the administration.

Public Works Commission Ken Armstrong said there are “surge” situations where firefighters are re-directed that can’t always be avoided.

“It's not an ideal situation honestly. That type of situation may occur no matter how many emergency care units you have to be honest with you. I mean, there is always that possibility, we don't want to occur, we do everything we can to prevent it.”

Lexington Public Works is a financial supporter of WEKU.

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Stan Ingold is WEKU's News Director. He has worked in public broadcasting for 18 years, starting at Morehead State Public Radio before spending the past 10 years at Alabama Public Radio. Stan has been honored with numerous journalism awards for his public radio reporting.
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