Rural/Metro Workers Could Strike at 12:01 a.m.

July 16, 2013 Updated Jul 16, 2013 at 4:17 AM EDT

By John Borsa

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July 16, 2013 Updated Jul 16, 2013 at 4:17 AM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - Rural/Metro is bringing out-of-state workers to Western New York to fill-in for paramedics and emergency medical technicians who could strike in just a few hours.

Roughly 400 workers could walk off the job at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.

Teamsters Union Local 375 and Rural/Metro continue to negotiate with the help a federal mediator and lawmakers were hopeful that a deal was still within reach.

"I keep on expressing to them it's imperative that we do not have to worry about a potential work stoppage as a result of this," said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

In the meantime, Rural/Metro is bringing 50 to 70 out-of-state workers to the area to fill in if local employees strike.

"We have put together a system to serve all of our communities. And that's what we are trying to focus on at this point," said Brian Lawson, spokesman for Rural/Metro.

Poloncarz expressed concern on Monday that the company would not be able to properly cover emergency calls if its workforce went on strike.

"If you bring somebody in from Kentucky or Ohio, how are they going to know the city streets? Are they going to be listening to a GPS that says in 400 feet, turn right? That's not in the best interest of this community," said Poloncarz.

Lawson said both sides are still talking, which is a good sign, and said the company would reach out to local volunteer fire companies, which provide ambulance service, to fill in gaps.

"We are hopeful that we're going to be able to handle all these calls. We are going to prioritize in those communities that don't have ambulances. If we need those volunteer fire companies to help transport we certainly are going to reach out and do that," said Lawson.

Watch Eyewitness News at 11:00 on Monday for the latest on contract talks.

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