Life Support is a volunteer organization dedicated to raising funds to strengthen Emergency Medical Services (EMS) within Upper Kittitas County. The fire and EMS infrastructure must advance now. Recreation, travel over I-90 Snoqualmie Pass, and tourism is growing at an alarming rate which will only add more limitations to an already underserved area.
Life Support is committed to eliminating unnecessary death and suffering by enhancing Fire and EMS for the travelers of I-90, visitors, and citizens of rural Upper Kittitas County.
Life Support’s efforts to bolster Fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is for you. We champion the efforts of Kittitas County Fire District 7 in creating a Regional Fire Authority (RFA) planning for a future of a consistently dependable and professional emergency medical and fire agency, combined with dedicated volunteers. State law provides the framework for cities, towns, and fire districts to form an RFA as a way to gain service efficiencies through consolidation. The legislature noted that the ability to respond to emergencies by many of Washington state’s fire and protection jurisdictions had not kept up with the demands and that efficiencies can occur by a regional fire and EMS response system.
Kittitas County Fire District 7 is leading the way and recently was awarded a SAFER grant to hire nine full-time firefighters evolving into the having a first time combined force of career firefighters and volunteers establishing a new standard. District 7 is the largest and most complex district responding to the most substantial portion of the I-90 corridor in upper Kittitas County and also responding to the recreation areas within the fire district, which can consist of rope rescue, winter rescue, etc. Additionally, the district covers the Suncadia Resort, which can have over 1000 guests at any time at the main lodge as well as including other rental properties. Service level demands outpace neighboring districts and municipalities. With response levels approaching over 900 per year, volunteers alone can no longer provide the needed level of service without support from full-time career firefighters. Burnout is prevalent in overworked all volunteer agencies.
We have a complicated system in Kittitas County when it comes to Fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS). Currently, each municipality has its fire department, which has volunteer EMTs and firefighters. For example, the Cle Elum, Roslyn, and South Cle Elum fire departments are each separate entities and are all 100% volunteer-based.
There are also Volunteer Fire Districts, such as Fire Districts 1, 3, 6 & 7, which serve rural areas of the county that are not covered by a municipal department (outside of city limits). These districts are also volunteer-based.
Also, we have a separate transport paramedic service (Medic One) dedicated to the Upper County. They are not fire-based. Their primary job is to transport all patients in Upper County and provide pre-hospital care. When called on, they cover Thorp to Snoqualmie Pass and everything in between, including the back-country.
Fire District 7 serves the most extensive response area, has four aid cars (3 are transport units), and provides back up transports for the Medic One Unit. There are often days when they cover multiple calls, sometimes all at once.
Consolidating Upper County Fire and EMS Districts would centralize operations. Consolidation would improve things immensely by allowing more career staff to be hired while also reducing response time to all communities and jurisdictions. This method has proven its worth time and again statewide.
An Upper County RFA can begin a new chapter in a fire district’s history, not a loss of its past.