At long last, Ada County EMS agencies ink cooperative pact

July 17, 2013 

A medical emergency in West Boise might be closer to a Meridian Fire station than the Boise Fire station that traditionally would have sent a crew to help.

Under the terms of the EMS Joint Powers Agreement signed Wednesday, dispatchers would automatically send people and equipment from that Meridian station, reducing response time.

“The people that call 911, at that point, they don’t care what color the fire engine is,” Meridian Fire Chief Mark Niemeyer said. “They just want somebody there fast.”

The people who signed the agreement also expect every jurisdiction involved to save money by cutting out redundant equipment purchases and buying other equipment in bulk to get lower prices.

“In our business, we always try to make things better, make things faster, make things cheaper. And it’s very rare when you can get all three. In fact, you normally have to pick one or two,” Boise Mayor David Bieter said. “But today represents that rare occasion when you can have all three, and that’s why this is such a monumental day.”

Politicians and emergency response officials have been working toward this agreement for a generation. Until now, the various agencies and municipalities couldn’t reach an accord on how to move forward with a joint powers contract.

“When I look back over my tenure, it’s been fire versus EMS, city versus county. It’s been political at times. It’s been partisan,” Ada County Commissioner Rick Yzaguirre said.

Even now, many details of the agreement, such as where equipment should be stationed, have yet to be ironed out, Niemeyer said.

“This is going to take a lot of collaboration,” Niemeyer said. “There’s hard work ahead. We know that. But we’ve gotten to this point. We know we can get all the way.”

Kuna Fire District Chairman Joe Stear said there’s plenty to celebrate.

“All I can say is ‘Wow,’” Stear said. “I can honestly say I was getting to the point where I never thought I’d see this day.”

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