Usually, a fire department has its own Emergency Medical Services and they work together. But in one Bay area community that’s not the case. The Venice Fire Department depends on Sarasota County EMS for services.

The fire chief says they need to consolidate for better response time and service because lives are on the line.

If Venice resident Frank Reginelli needed to call 911 for medical reasons, he says he’d want them to respond “immediately.” But he may have to wait for help -- the Venice Fire Department may arrive up to 3 minutes before EMS.

 “Minutes, seconds could cost a life,” says Reginelli.

An outside study by the Venice Fire Department shows each time there’s a medical call, a fire truck from Venice rolls to meet paramedics.

 Venice Fire Chief Shawn Carvey said, “66 percent of the time, our units respond first."

 The study shows a fire truck arrives in 4 minutes and the county’s EMS arrives 3 minutes later. Venice does not have its own EMS service.

 With "cardiac arrest, stroke or respiratory failure," Carvey says, "brain death starts occurring in 4-6 minutes.”

Chief Carvey met with Venice City Council during a workshop Friday and asked for the city to have its own EMS to improve response time.

Reginelli says, “I think it would be better managed if kept locally.”

If Venice Fire consolidates its EMS, the chief says the cost would be the same as outsourcing to the county: $3.9 million from mileage rate and transport fees, but the return would be greater.

 “We would look at expanding from three paramedics to each shift to six paramedics,” explains Carvey.

“I would tell the city council push forward with the chief’s request we have an older population in Venice -- it’s important to take care of them,” says Reginelli.

Venice’s mayor says they need to digest the information they heard Friday and verify the cost would be the same. The city council will likely take up the issue again at its city council meeting next week.

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