NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The city’s first responders are certainly impacted by the furloughs. During a round table discussion today, leaders of the NOPD, Fire Department and EMS talked about the impacts on their departments.
The city’s furlough requires all employees to take six unpaid days moving forward. All department leaders said it’s difficult, and there’s no handbook on how to handle the situation, so they’re assessing calls for service and working on the best ways to still maintain public safety.
Chief Shaun Ferguson says right now, he’s seeing only minimal effects on the NOPD with staffing, and he says response times should not be affected.
Fire Chief Tim McConnell says he’s reduced staff, so he’s having to take about 3 or 4 units out of service every day. He says the calls for structure fires are down 6 and a half percent, so that helps, but he says they are having to dispatch more units to fires from different districts to achieve the manpower needed on that particular scene.
“So, I want to assure everyone that when a fire breaks out, we aren’t just sending fewer people. We are sending the same amount of people than we normally send, but it takes more units than it normally would because there are fewer people on the units,” said NOFD Chief Tim McConnell.
EMS, which uses a lot of overtime, will now have to cut its overtime by 75 percent and take a 21 percent cut in available staff. They say that will mean a decrease in available units on the street every day.
“On the current plan that was approved, that would bring us down to about 18 units so from 22 to about 17 or 18 units. Plus, we still have some staff out with COVID and other illnesses,” said EMS Chief Bill Salmeron.
The Mayor says the city faces a $150 million budget gap. The city had hoped to receive about 150 million dollars of the Federal Cares Act money but instead, the city says it only received about 40 percent of that.
The city says as it looks ahead to next year, they’ll likely have to have furloughs built into the 2021 budget.
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