Skagit County, cities begin planning for EMS transition

August 11, 2018

MOUNT VERNON — At the first meeting of Skagit County’s EMS transition committee, members put forward a schedule for shifting management of the ambulance system.

Members from the county, cities and fire departments discussed how they would dissolve the Central Valley Ambulance Authority and contract with the cities to transport patients on emergency calls.

By Jan. 1, the city fire departments need to be ready to go, said Jeff Sargent, the county’s EMS director.

To meet this goal, Sedro-Woolley City Supervisor Eron Berg said the county’s contracts with the city should be completed by the end of September to give the cities time to hire and train paramedics.

“It’s a heavy lift to get from here to the finish (in time),” he said.

Several subcommittees were formed to handle aspects of the transition, including countywide emergency response plans, scope of work for the cities and the process of distributing Central Valley Ambulance Authority equipment to the cities.

Kirk Hale, the former director of Central Valley, is working with the county to oversee the dissolution of the ambulance authority, county commissioner Lisa Janicki said.

Sargent said he has shared with the cities how much money they can expect to get from the county EMS levy to fund their operations, based on the number of staff and ambulances that exist in the EMS system today.

He said he’s confident they can meet response time standards with the resources they’ll be given.

“Day one’s not going to look very different,” Sargent said.

Once the city departments get comfortable in their new role, he said he expects they will start to experiment and find new efficiencies.

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