ARCHIV - 25.02.2022, Berlin: Ein Rettungswagen der Feuerwehr fährt auf einer Straße. (Aufnahme mit Langzeitbelichtung) (zu dpa: «Angriffe auf Polizei und Feuerwehr sind in Berlin Alltag») Foto: Fernando Gutierrez-Juarez/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

On Monday, the Berlin fire brigade declared a state of emergency for the rescue service for the 169th time – and thus almost every day in the first half of 2022 and just as often as in the entire previous year. On Wednesday, Interior Senator Iris Spranger (SPD) presented her rescue plan on how she wants to save the rescue service from collapsing.

There were crisis meetings on Monday and Tuesday, and Spranger and state fire director Karsten Homrighausen could not say anything for days after the situation had deteriorated dramatically on Saturday: 16 hours of emergency, too few staff, no free ambulances, people in need waited for what felt like an eternity.

For the time being, Spranger will only be making adjustments. Specific information as to when the details should be implemented is largely missing. Spranger wants to talk to Health Senator Ulrike Gote (Greens), her goal: ambulances should no longer be turned away from hospitals so often and should look for free hospital beds throughout the city.

The digital networking of hospitals and rescue services must be “further improved”. From July 1st, the Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund will provide an additional ambulance. There should be four more from the aid organizations by the end of the year.

The vehicle fleet of the fire brigade should be controlled better – also digitally. The times when the crews report that they are not ready for action should be shortened, and deployment and duty rosters adjusted. At the fire brigade, administrative staff with the necessary training could also be reactivated. In addition, Spranger wants to check whether private patient transport can take over trips to the clinics for non-acute cases. There is currently an “additional need for up to 19 ambulances”.

After all: The fire brigade gets more staff, 793 additional jobs in the “fire-fighting service” since 2018, the number of training places has been doubled to 500. More emergency paramedics are being trained: in 2021 there were 24 trainees, 150 are planned for 2022 and 180 by 2023.

Spranger was ambiguous about demands from the unions to revise the rescue service law and to restrict the power of the medical director of the fire brigade, who has been criticized. “We rightly have high quality requirements in the rescue service in order to provide emergency patients with the best possible care,” she said. And: “We do not close ourselves to concrete proposals to adapt the rescue service law.”

[More on the subject on Tagesspiegel Plus: After a horror day on Saturday. Berlin fire department has to declare a state of emergency again – 165 times this year]

It also says in Spranger’s statement: “The Berlin fire brigade and the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians are coordinating a joint campaign.” Citizens should be informed when they should dial the emergency number 112 or the number of the on-call service of the statutory health insurance physicians 116117. “I appeal to everyone in Berlin to use the emergency number 112 conscientiously. This is essentially reserved for cases where there is an immediate danger to life,” said Spranger.

Lars Wieg, head of the German Fire Brigade Union (DFeuG) in Berlin, was horrified. “I’m at a loss for words,” he said. “If this is the answer to the catastrophic situation in the emergency services, then it will be an exciting summer. This is not an appropriate response to the current problems. ”The five additional ambulances of the aid organizations are a sham and have been planned for a long time.

Mathematically, only one and a half of the five cars are available around the clock. Even with the aid organizations, the ambulances are “constantly not manned” due to a lack of staff.

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It is also difficult to reactivate employees from the administration. They would have to “first be brought up to date in order to meet current requirements,” said Wieg. “This cannot be implemented in the short term.”

The well-known job offensive is also a sham, numerous positions are vacant, the training takes time and does not lead to quick relief for the employees. Benjamin Jendro of the Police Union (GdP) said: Spranger’s proposals “make sense, but will change little if anything about the situation”.