Ambulance Ride-Along Eye Opener for Grim

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Ambulance ride-along eye-opener for Grim

Councilman weighs budget cuts as he joins city crew

CUMBERLAND — As the city of Cumberland and the International Assocation of Fire Fighters continue to discuss the fate of the city’s fire department, city councilman Brian Grim decided to use first-hand experience to determine the potential effects of budget cuts.

Grim rode along with the front-line ambulance crew from noon until 8 p.m. Monday, essentially a third of a firefighter’s shift, in order to learn about the inner workings of the fire department.

“It’s something that I’ve been interested in doing for some time,” said Grim. “I wanted to see the day-to-day operations of the department. This came to the forefront and it’s the right time to do it.”

The ambulance crew, with Grim in tow, responded to six calls during the eight-hour shift. The calls involved a variety of emergencies, including patients with breathing difficulties, a psychiatric call and a medical alarm.

“I spent the entire day with the fire department and I’ve seen all aspects of their operation,” said Grim. “Their daily routine, the constant training they do, their regular chores, and how they have a constant stream of calls.

“It’s a very busy day,” he said.

Grim said that what he took away from the experience was the firefighters’ unending toil throughout each shift.

“When they’re not on the ambulance doing the work that people expect of them on the streets, they’re still busy back at the station,” said Grim. “They’re always busy, particularly when we have such an elderly population here ... although they might not be the kind of calls you see on television, everything is significant and everyting is serious.”

“I’ve been here 33 years and this is the first councilman to do something like this,” said Deputy Chief William Beeghly. “It shows he’s truly interested in the fire department and what we do, and it shows a real commitment to the city.”

Beeghly said he’d only seen one or two other council members even walk into the station during his time with the department.

Grim said the experience helped reinforce his views on the budget situation with the fire department.

“It emphasizes my feeling that we have to be careful when we balance the budget for public safety,” he said. “When we look at the money that’s spent on our public safety services, it’s true that we need to cut spending, but we don’t need to jeopardize the services we’re providing to our citizens.

“We really have to be very careful when we’re making financial decisions that could impact our public safety services,” said Grim.

Councilwoman Mary Beth Pirolozzi plans to do a similar ride-along on Thursday. She plans to spend a full 24-hour shift with the department.