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August 1, 2018

Commissioners, stakeholders plan next steps in EMS transition

A new, fire-based EMS system will begin operating in central Skagit County on or before Jan. 1, 2019, following an ordinance passed July 25 by the Skagit County Board of Commissioners. The ordinance also dissolves the Central Valley Ambulance Authority (CVAA) as of July 31, 2019.

“It’s the first time the county and cities have had a unified view of how the system should work,” said EMS Director Jeff Sargent. “We wanted to capitalize on that momentum.”

Representatives from the county’s four cities – Anacortes, Burlington, Mount Vernon and Sedro-Woolley – along with Aero Skagit, local fire districts, and Skagit County, will form the EMS Transition Coordination Committee, and are tasked with drafting a scope of work, response criteria and response maps for the new system. The committee will meet twice a month between now and the end of the year, with the first meeting tentatively set for Thursday, Aug. 9.

“Ultimately, we’re changing the management structure of a portion of our EMS system,” Sargent said. “When you call 911 for a medical emergency, you’ll still get an ambulance. The new system provides more flexibility to dispatch the right resources to a call, which makes the whole system work more efficiently.”

The decision to make the transition followed a series of meetings starting in April between Skagit County EMS, local cities and local fire districts. Feedback from EMS system stakeholders showed support for a number of efficiencies, including what’s known as a fire-based model, where local cities integrate EMS services into their existing fire response system.

Skagit County EMS will continue to oversee the system by providing contract management, standardized training for all EMS providers and fire districts, and systemwide quality assurance.

More information about the EMS transition, frequently asked questions, can be found online at www.skagitcounty.net/EmergencyMedicalServices. For questions or more details, please contact Jeff Sargent at jsargent@co.skagit.wa.us or 360-416-1836.