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W-S Fire Department cuts medical response calls by 40 percent

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Winston-Salem Fire Department says it’s cut medical response calls by roughly 40 percent since implementing a new policy in July where firefighters only provide medical assistance during life-threatening emergencies.

In the first three months, the department responded to nearly 1,000 fewer medical calls.

Prior to the policy change, WSFD responded to all EMS calls.

A study found that out of 20,000 medical calls the department was called out to last year, 13,000 did not require any assistance from firefighters.

WSFD says it’s already saved about $10,000.

Winston-Salem anticipates saving about $150,000 a year in fuel and truck maintenance costs.

In addition, Winston-Salem Fire Department no longer responds to facilities that have trained medical staff on hand.

Fire chief Antony Farmer says the move allows for more efficient training and has improved morale for the department.

Another policy that took effect July 1; any address with more than 3 false calls, calls where there is no emergency and crews are not needed, will not receive a response for one year.

There are some exceptions to this rule, like situations where a new tenant or owner comes into a property.

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