By Rick Pfeiffer
Rural Metro Ambulance and its striking unionized workers have reportedly reached a tentative agreement, just hours after union members walked off the job.
The union president told Channel 4 News that a four-year contract proposal improves wages and health care and he expects members to approve the deal.
EMTs and paramedics are expected to return to work today.
About 380 paramedics and emergency medical technicians for Rural Metro Ambulance have walked off the job at 11:48 p.m. Monday.
A local picket was expected to be up this morning in the Falls at Lockport Road and Hyde Park Boulevard.
The move wasn't unexpected.
Falls Fire Chief Tom Colangelo said before the strike Monday night he has been working with Niagara County Emergency Services personnel and Rural Metro officials to try to ensure the city won't be left unprotected.
"What (Rural Metro) has in place is, they're bringing in people from out of town, mostly management and non-union people, and they're going to try to cover the (striking workers) shifts with them," Colangelo said. "But they've also said they're working hard to resolve (the contract talks) and hopefully they can resolve this."
Colangelo said priority will be given to ambulance calls from 911 dispatchers, while regular ambulance transports may be delayed.
"I feel confident that (city residents will be protected)," the fire chief said. "But I'd really like (the two sides) to settle their contract."