‘Sick emergency services need urgent reform’

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Firefighters will stage a symbolic strike from Wednesday in protest at worsening working conditions, saying they “no longer have the means to carry out our missions”.

France’s firefighters are demanding a complete overhaul of the country’s “sick” emergency services.

The Fédération autonome des sapeurs-pompiers professionnels et des personnels administratifs – which has called the protest – said that firefighters “no longer have the means to carry out our missions or to respond to the shortcomings of the State”.

Fire services will run as normal during the protest, which is set to run until August 31, but officers will wear t-shirts and armbands indicating they are taking part in the dispute.

André Goretti, the union’s national and departmental president, told news website franceinfo: “We are being asked to carry out more and more missions with fewer and fewer resources, in terms of staff and equipment.

“We are under the dual leadership of a government that imposes measures that force us to carry out tasks that are not our own and, on the other hand, our employers, departmental councils and municipalities, which no longer have the means to finance this extra work.”

He said that over-stretched ambulance services frequently call on firefighters for non-life threatening cases. “We find ourselves in situations where we no longer carry out missions where there are vital risks,” he said.

“We do not refuse to take on all these missions, except that we do not have the manpower resources. When we are involved in these “transports of convenience”, if there is a fire or a cardiorespiratory arrest, the staff can no longer attend that emergency, all because the State’s deficiencies are being addressed.”

Mr Goretti said that reform of the emergency services is vital. “We were recently told that the violence we are subjected to is not similar to that of the police forces.

“We did not choose this profession to be abused, either physically or verbally. When you are dealing with a drunk on the public road, which is the responsibility of the police forces, it is a crime.

“The drunk person must be fined and placed in a drunk tank – but since there are no resources available for the police and gendarmerie, people call the fire brigade, and we take this drunk to the emergency room. And since there are not enough staff in the ER, they cannot treat them.

“We will carry out our missions but, unfortunately, there is more and more suffering in our services.”

Source: The Connexion