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Benton County Fire District #1 looks to reduce response times through levy

Every second matters when it's the difference between life or death. That's why one local fire department is being proactive to reduce response times.

BENTON COUNTY, Wash. -- Every second matters when it's the difference between life or death. That's why one local fire department is being proactive to reduce response times.

“Emergencies are not planned events and when they happen, every second counts," said Lowell Cooper, a resident in Benton County.

Cooper said it's important for responders to get to emergencies as quickly as possible- since most times, lives are on the line.

But when he learned how long it currently takes for emergency responders to get to his house-almost twelve minutes-he was shocked.

"Whatever can be done to shorten a response time from an emergency response team would be very appreciated in this community," said Cooper.

Benton County Fire District #1 is hoping to significantly improve response times with an EMS levy- adding two ambulances staffed with full-time crews.

With their resources right now, officials said it takes them anywhere from eight to 16 minutes to respond to areas they cover. But with the levy, they could potentially reduce 16 minutes to three minutes.

"Everyone of us can relate to emergencies in our homes and when these things happen and we call 911. Those next minutes seem like hours," said Tracy Baker with Benton County Fire District #1.

Another concern is how fast our area is growing.

Officials said over the last ten years, call volumes have increased two-percent every year.

90-percent of those require mutual aid.

"Right now we rely on neighboring agencies to transport our patients and what we want to do is be a good neighbor as well and transport our own community members," said Baker.

Officials tell Action News they hope to put the levy out for the public's vote sometime next year.

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