Local fire district wants levy to fund ambulances, reduce response times

Benton County Fire District #1 want levy to fund ambulances, reduce response times

BENTON COUNTY, Wash. - A levy that could potentially reduce response times for a local fire department may soon be introduced to voters.

The Board of Fire Commissioners is considering asking voters to approve a levy for emergency medical service (EMS) for Benton County Fire District #1, according to a news release.

Funds would be used to purchase and staff two ambulances for EMS calls. Officials said this would reduce response times as much as seven minutes when a patient is in need of immediate care.

Fire district officials are concerned that ambulances are taking too long because the district relies on mutual aid from neighboring agencies. Officials said they hope having an EMS program would also improve patient care.

Locals have expressed support for the fire district to purchase its own ambulances. Dawn Senger and her husband who live in Finley waited 20 minutes for an ambulance after he slipped and fell on ice this winter cracking two ribs.

“We hope the Board will allow people to vote on this issue,” said Dawn Senger. “We shouldn’t have to wait for the care we need.”

Fire officials say the need for this program is growing due to an increase in population. “The population in our fire district has grown to the point where we need to provide this level of care," said Fire Chief Lonnie Click.

Chief Click also says that relying on mutual aid impacts the resources neighboring agencies have to serve their communities.

The Board will vote whether to put an EMS levy on the August Primary Election ballot during the April 17 meeting, which will be held at 9 a.m. in the Fire District Headquarters at 7511 West Arrowhead Ave.

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