Beginning at 12:01 am Sunday morning, Aug. 26, the town of Johnston will no longer provide what Mayor Joseph Polisena calls "day-to-day" rescue service to Providence.
Polisena and the mayors of North Providence and East Providence had set the deadline at a , after they said their requests for reimbursement from Providence went unanswered.
Providence Mayor Angel Taveras told WPRI-TV this week that officials in the city intend to "continue to respond to all emergencies in our city... [and] help other cities and towns," the station reported on its website.
During an interview at on Friday, Polisena made a point to distinguish the "routine" type of rescue call from standing agreements among cities and towns for fighting fires and responding to incidents that result in multiple injuries or deaths.
Polisena explained that Fire Chief Timothy McLaughlin had sent a letter to Providence saying "we will no longer provide the daily rescue service that they, obviously, depend on us for — however, if there's a mass casualty incident, we'll send everybody. But we're not going to respond to the day-to-day, routine calls we get."
The mayor also repeated his earlier contention that Providence should purchase a new rescue vehicle — and cited the city's recently-announced plans to borrow $40 million to fund road improvements as a possible source of that money.
[Polisena had been to Providence that are not covered by patients' health insurance — part of the overall cost of nearly $1,000 charged by the town.]
"Out of that $40 million, take $1 million — [if] they put on another rescue, it'll take care of the $500 [requested] from North Providence and almost the $500 from Johnston," Polisena said. "If they put another rescue on, it'll take the burden off of us, plus it's like a domino effect [where] it will take some of the burden off their current rescues."
Polisena also reiterated that, in his view, the main issue is providing safety for Johnston residents.
"I want to make this clear, because people think it's about money," Polisena explained. "It's not about money — this is about me keeping our citizens safe. We have three rescues, they cover 26 square miles, we do 5,500 calls a year. It does our citizens no good to have two of our rescues in Providence [and] to have one left over here, it goes on a call — and then, all of a sudden, somebody calls because their baby's not breathing. Where do I go for another rescue?"
And after setting a 60-day deadline and getting no further with Providence officials, Polisena said he has no other choice.
"I received a call about two weeks ago from [Public Safety Commissioner Steven] Pare. I thought the call was vague — he said 'we're working on something,' and I didn't give him a commitment," Polisena explained. "If [Taveras] had said to me 'I can't give you $500, I can give you $250,' I don't know that I would have said 'yes,' [but at least there would have been an offer]. The other thing is, he didn't put a plan together — if the mayor called me and said to me, today, 'Listen, mayor, I know you're upset. I have a plan, can I come and see you?' I'd welcome him with open arms — but they've got no plan."