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Lawsuit threatened over 911 calls

WARREN — A lawyer representing MedStar Ambulance has threatened to sue the county if nothing is done to increase the percentage of emergency calls it receives from Warren through the county’s 911 system.

Attorney Scott Pullins in a March 23 letter to the Trumbull County prosecutor’s office said the percentage of emergency calls MedStar has received in Warren has dropped significantly since Warren police dispatchers were merged into the Trumbull County 911 system in September of 2015.

“From 2015 until today, my client went from a situation where it was receiving 100 percent of the 911 calls to now where it is receiving 20 percent of the calls,” Pullins wrote. “It was never supposed to be like that. As our call volume decreased, we had to adjust our staff and coverage.”

The company is in the position to take 50 percent or more of the ambulance calls in Warren, he said.

There are two primary ambulance services that respond to calls in Warren — MedStar and EMT. Representatives of EMT did not respond to calls for comment.

“The city had publicly stated we would receive 50 percent of the 911 calls,” Pullins said. “Since that time, the number of calls has dropped to about 20 percent.”

A meeting is scheduled to take place today involving county 911 officials, Warren Safety Service Director Enzo Cantalamessa, MedStar and EMT, according to Pullins.

Trumbull County 911 Director Ernie Cook said the meeting, as he understands it, is not to talk about the percentage of service calls, but how each of the companies can improve the service they provide.

“We will be there in an advisory capacity,” Cook said. “We want to have everyone at the table, so their concerns can be addressed.”

During council’s combined health and welfare and police and fire committee meeting on March 21, Cook said the 911 Center dispatches calls in a way directed by the communities it serves, noting the county 911 Center does not contract with ambulance services.

Some communities provide their own service through their fire departments and others contract with private ambulance services. Of 33 Trumbull communities, only four do not provide emergency ambulance service through their own or a nearby fire department.

Niles, Weathersfield and Girard contract with Lane Ambulance for emergency services. McDonald Village and Milton Township have emergency services both through their fire departments and with Lane Ambulance.

While Warren no longer has a contract with either of the ambulance services, it was expected the 911 Center would continue to provide its calls to the two services in the same way it had prior to the expiration of the contracts.

Cantalamessa said the city allowed previous contracts it had with the ambulance services to expire in October because it no longer is the direct employer of the dispatchers.

However, Cantalamessa on Thursday said the city is willing to explore all options, including coming to new agreements with the ambulance services, which will allow citizens of Warren to receive the ambulance services they require.

Pullins, in the letter to the prosecutor’s office, suggested the 911 Center immediately begin rotating calls between the two ambulance services on an equal basis.

“This rotation can be either by call or by day, but please inform the services of what direction it will take,” Pullins wrote.

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