D.C. Fire hires nine new paramedics

WASHINGTON (AP) - The District of Columbia fire department is hiring nine new paramedics as it continues to address a shortage that has led to slow responses to some medical emergencies.

The new hires will start Dec. 2. They still won't change the number of paramedics on the street at any given time. The district still deploys less than half the paramedics used by urban departments with similar call volumes.

They won't relieve the stress on the dual-role firefighter-paramedics who are usually the first responders to medical emergencies. The new paramedics are not trained as firefighters and can only ride on ambulances.

Paul Quander, the city's deputy mayor for public safety, says the new paramedics are filling an "immediate need" and will have the opportunity to become firefighters if they so choose.

The latest spate of hiring comes several months after the department brought aboard 60 new fire cadets and nine paramedics.