Ada County officials are flexing their paramedic muscles with a proposed ordinance that attempts to prohibit fire departments in the county from providing ambulance service to citizens.
That will be devastating to Kuna’s Fire Dept. which already operates an ambulance with trained paramedics.
Star wants to offer similar ambulance service 24/7 which they fail to get from Ada County EMS at present. Star Fire Commission Chairman Steve Edgar notes the 911 dispatch system is already in place and his department wants to provide an increased level of service to residents. The closest ambulance to Star responds from Eagle, but only 12 hours a day. Ada opposes the Star plan to provide their own ambulance and staff.
Monday all the fire chiefs in the county met with the county Emergency Medical Services director to discuss the proposed amendments to the EMS ordinance. None of them favor the changes which pretty much put the sole authority for all medical services under the county.
Most fire departments have medical supervision from a doctor, but under the proposed ordinance only the county medical directorate (including a doctor) would have authority over training and protocol.
Boise Deputy Fire Chief Dave Hanneman said while the fire chiefs were unanimous in in their opposition to the proposed ordinance changes, their reasons were varied. He cited a licensing authority of the EMS to collect fees from each emergency medical technician in the department.
Ada County EMS previously has pretty much limited private ambulance service to non-emergency runs, transporting patients between hospitals and nursing homes. Earlier this year Ada County EMS entered into that business with county assets competing directly with the private services. Now they want to curtail public competition as well.
All this comes after voters turned down a tax hike 18 months ago. The County has struggled to run the service as a business. Meanwhile, thanks to growth, a healthy economy, and eager firefighters, the fire services have added paramedics to some of their fire engine crews and in the case of Kuna even offered paramedic ambulances.
The county attempt to establish a monopoly on EMS care and transport short-changes many citizens, is ill advised and likely will end up in court if the ordinance is passed. We all live in Ada County and all deserve a certain level of EMS service from the county.
If, however, a fire district or city wishes to offer more and quicker services to citizens they should have the right to do so.
That is what we do with police. The sheriff provides a minimum level of law enforcement in the county and if cities wish to create their own police departments to deliver increased service at taxpayer expense, they are free to do so. Boise, Meridian, and Garden City do just that.
Competing to offer emergency medical services is ludicrous. The GUARDIAN thinks there are only losers when the county tries to operate as a business. Hopefully citizens will demand–and offer some common sense that is so far lacking at the government level.
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