Bonner County Emergency Medical Services (BC EMS)
Many of us recall the initial meetings to form a county-wide medical service many years ago. Perhaps the formation of Bonner County Emergency Medical Services (BC EMS) by that Board, was not done properly; they failed to have a vote of the public to impose the new tax. However, we all knew the issues and short-comings with the private ambulance service. Creating BC EMS was the best solution. Sometimes doing the “Right Thing” is more important than “Doing Things Right.” BC EMS has served us county-wide extremely well, and grown into a highly valuable first responder asset of Bonner County.
Initially, BC EMS had some growing pains and suffered from a lack of strong leadership. Once effective leadership was provided, BC EMS evolved into more than “city curbside medical transport.” BC EMS provides the organizational structure that incorporated the disparate levels of medical services provided by fire agencies and volunteers from Clark Fork to Priest Lake, into an effective county-wide EMS.
While commanding Priest Lake Search & Rescue (17 years) and serving as county commissioner (4 years), I assisted BC EMS in developing its backcountry rescue capabilities. BC EMS became a professional and highly skilled medical rescue asset for all of Bonner County, including the backcountry. They have the personnel, skills, knowledge, ability and equipment to successfully execute medical rescues under the harshest conditions, regardless of the location. These trained and dedicated employees save lives.
Turning back the clock by privatizing this valuable asset, and giving up operational and management control, would be a very poor management decision by the BOCC. I fear the citizens and visitors of Bonner County would likely pay the ultimate price for such an unfortunate decision.
We must maintain county-wide EMS under the auspices and direct operational control of Bonner County. I implore you to reconsider your options regarding BC EMS.
1. My first recommendation is appointing a strong BC EMS Director and stay the course with BC EMS as it currently exists to provide county-wide service.
2. If you chose not to maintain EMS as a separate entity, then put it under the Sheriff, as BCSO also provides county-wide emergency services.
For the taxpayer funding it, EMS needs to report to an elected official (BOCC or Sheriff) with county-wide authority, responsibility, and accountability.
Respectively submitted for your consideration,
Mike A. Nielsen
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