Keating: Red, White & Blue Fire District’s standards will not be compromised (column) | SummitDaily.com

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Keating: Red, White & Blue Fire District’s standards will not be compromised (column)

In light of the recent article highlighting the issues between our Fire District and Summit County government, this is nothing new and dates back to 2002 and even beyond when substandard ambulance transport services were being provided to this district. An important fact to consider is that in early 2013, Summit County came to Red, White & Blue and requested any help we might be able to provide in an attempt to curb the over half-a-million dollar loss that was growing annually for its ambulance transport operations.

The district, earlier in 2006, purchased two patient transport capable units and with 10 paramedics then on staff, offered to become part of the EMS transport system because of delayed ambulance responses occurring in our district, but the offer was denied inclusion into the system. After the 2013 request for assistance, our agency set boundaries to the county on what we could provide into the system without endangering our other emergency response requirements. After much discussion, an agreement was reached.

For the first six month's period of the agreement it was determined that our organization would receive the second 911 call for EMS response in our district and if that resulted in a transport to the hospital in Frisco, The district would receive 7.5 percent of the collected revenue from the response. Summit County was to monitor the transport operations through the six-month period and revisit the agreement prior to its ending.

After the first six months of success the agreement was then renewed for a year and then noting the district would receive 50 percent of the collected revenues for any transports completed within the county, but with a county imposed annual cap on the maximum revenue that would be paid to the district this agreement remains in place today.

From the very start of that contract, Summit County has continually attempted to push the district in doing more and more for the county EMS transport system. These efforts continued and continue today and did notably increase after the passage of the Summit County 1A tax initiative that in part was noted to provide substantial funds to assist with EMS transport. This push to do more comes with little consideration given by the county for our desire to be compliant with national standards and to respond safely and effectively to all emergencies, continue to maintain our ISO rating of 2, and our status of being an accredited agency.

Our district is committed to continue to provide timely and cost-effective emergency services to our service area and to provide a high level of response capabilities with the safety of our firefighters, citizens and guests always as our highest priority. We are committed to continue to coordinate and deliver our services in conjunction with our other emergency service partners in Summit County, however in doing so, our service levels and compliance to standards will not be compromised.

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Jim Keating is the chief of the Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District.