The City of Kirkland wants to provide its own paramedic services, but instead has had to depend on a Redmond EMS unit stationed at Evergreen/Health Medical Center to respond to the calls from Kirkland residents.
In a meeting held January 31, Kirkland’s hopes were dashed when their request to be a local EMS provider by 2020 was denied by the King County Executive’s office.
To make matters worse, “new language was put into the EMS Strategic Plan to specifically prohibit any new agencies from becoming [paramedic] providers,” said Kurt Triplett, Kirkland city manager.
In the meantime, King County began making plans for the renewal of Medic One on the upcoming November ballot.
Kirkland, however, by virtue of its 81,000 population (along with eight other King County cities with populations over 50,000) had the ability to veto the 6-year extension to the life-saving program’s appearance on the ballot.
“Kirkland has suggested amendments to the strategic plan that call for a study of Kirkland becoming an EMS provider and removing the restrictions on new agencies providing paramedic service,” said Triplett.
The lengthy battle between Kirkland and the county was aparently resolved for the time being by last week’s compromise in which the King County Regional Policy Committee called for an independent study of how many Medic One providers there should be and whether Kirkland should be one.
While “Kirkland City Council’s priority in the EMS levy is the health and safety of our citizens,” according to a press release from Triplett, some feathers remain ruffled.
“It was alarming to see how vulnerable our public safety system is to political opportunism. This was a dangerous game Kirkland played with an essential service,” said Geoff Olson, president, IAFF Local 2099, Northsound Professional Firefighters.