Fischer merges emergency services departments

Fischer merges emergency services departments

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - In an effort to improve emergency responses, the city's three emergency services departments are being merged into a single agency headed by the current director of the Emergency Management Agency, the mayor's office announced Friday.

In a press release, Mayor Greg Fischer's office said the move is designed to create a more seamless and coordinated response "from the time a 911 call comes into MetroSafe until a patient is delivered to an emergency room."

The merger also helps to fill the vacancy left when the former medical director and chief executive of the Emergency Medical Service, Dr. Neal Richmond, left to take a similar job in Fort Worth, TX. Current EMA/MetroSafe Director Debbie Fox will now also oversee operations at EMS. The position of medical director will be filled by Dr. Raymond Orthober, the release said.

Fox's new title will be Director of Emergency Services. Three departments will report to her: the Emergency Medical Service, which is the city's medical and ambulance response department; the Emergency Management Agency, a community emergency response team comprised of 95 agencies; and MetroSafe, the call center for 911 and 311.

Mayor Fischer said the merger will not incur any additional expenses and will be paid for completely by the existing budgets for the departments.

A spokesman for the mayor's office said Fox will now earn $110,000 per year and Orthober will be paid $80,000. In his final year at EMS, Richmond was paid $176,510.

Orthober's focus will be the medical side of EMS, while Fox's role will be to oversee day-to-day operations, the mayor's office said.

"These three agencies already work closely together, but unified under the strong leadership of Debbie Fox, our citizens will experience an even better collaborative response when it comes to emergencies," Fischer was quoted as saying in the release.

Fox joined the Jefferson County Police Department in 1982 as a dispatcher. She was the first employee of EMA/MetroSafe, where she helped to created the consolidated dispatch and communications center. In 2013, she was named director of EMA/MetroSafe.

Copyright 2015 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.