Emergency calls streamlined in Ada County

An agreement between city and county agencies makes Ada one big response area.

sberg@idahostatesman.comJuly 18, 2013 

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

Under the terms of a joint powers agreement signed Wednesday, dispatchers will 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 city of Star is expected to join Ada County, the cities of Boise and Meridian, the Eagle and Kuna fire districts, and the North Ada Fire and Rescue District as signers of the agreement.

On top of better response times, emergency service experts expect every jurisdiction involved to save money by cutting redundant equipment purchases and buying gear in bulk.

"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 Dave Bieter said. "But today represents that rare occasion when you can have all three, and that's why this is such a monumental day."

Officials have been working toward this agreement for a generation. Until now, the various agencies and municipalities couldn't reach an accord.

"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 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."

Sven Berg: 377-6275

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