County EMS unveils framework to revise ambulance system

County EMS unveils framework to revise ambulance system

MOUNT VERNON — Skagit County’s Department of Emergency Medical Services debuted Tuesday the framework for a plan to revise the ambulance system.

At a meeting of EMS stakeholders, county EMS Director Jeff Sargent presented an eight-point list of initiatives the department wants to implement during the next six-year EMS levy cycle.

“The idea with these initiatives is … in the first two years, to get them up and running,” Sargent said.

Voters will decide on a new county EMS levy on Aug. 7

The list of initiatives includes allowing EMTs to transport patients who don’t need care from a more highly trained paramedic.

Bryan Harrison, Burlington city administrator, said the list represented a positive change.

The group of stakeholders from cities, ambulance providers and fire districts has been asking the county to define what changes are possible for the EMS system, said Harrison, who is also a member of the Central Valley Ambulance Authority.

He said having a list of initiatives is helpful in narrowing possibilities.

Others, including Sedro-Woolley City Supervisor and Attorney Eron Berg, were less impressed.

Berg said he was glad to see the county beginning to answer stakeholders’ questions, but he was concerned that without more leadership from the county, the group might lose momentum.

Because the county is asking voters for a larger levy, Berg said the county needs to be able to show voters what they will get from it.

Voters will weigh in on a property tax levy of 44 cents per $1,000 dollars in assessed value in the August election. This is an increase from the current levy rate of 37.5 cents per $1,000 dollars in assessed value.

Sargent said the county is happy to facilitate meetings between ambulance providers, but he doesn’t think it’s the county’s place to run any of these agencies.

“We need more than facilitation. We need leadership,” Anacortes Mayor Laurie Gere said in response.