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  • Interlocal/Mutual Aid Agreements Ideas

    Thanks to anyone in advance for your input on this issue. As we all know times are tough and as a result departments are looking for money and savings any way they can get it. In our situation, we have several county VFD's that serve the rural areas and one combination department that serves the residents within the city limits as far as fire protection. The city department is funded by (obviously) tax revenues mostly. All rescue calls no matter the type or location within the county are currently handled by the city FD. The EMS is operated and funded by county government. So in these times, the city is re-evaluating their budget and has decided to ask for reimbursement for calls outside the city limits (primarily rescue calls) at a cost of about a thousand dollars per call. This would be paid by the county government, not the individual VFD's.

    The county has proposed training the EMS crews and VFD's in extrication. etc.. and purchasing equipment to be placed on one of the units at the EMS station. Then when the call drops, they would dispatch EMS along with the appropriate VFD to complete the rescue. My question is the following:

    Does anyone have experiences different or similar to these and how did they work in each case? We are in the preliminary stages of discussion at present but I think it would definitely behoove us to make sure our county officials are properly informed prior to them making any decisions that will affect the VFD's or the citizenry. Fortunately, the county officials do seem willing to listen and hopefully take the time to make an informed decision. We would greatly appreciate any and all input on this subject!!! Thanks and be safe!

  • #2
    Not really enough info to provide adequate feedback..
    -- How often does the Rescue get called out of the City? Is this a moderate/high percentage of yearly calls or just a handfull?
    -- How big is the county and what is the worse-case distance/response time for the city Rescue vs the local VFD's? How many VFD's would have to get extrication tools to provide coverage?

    Personally having all your extrication eggs in a single Rescue's basket is a little scary. Augmenting (some of) the VFD's engines with tools (essentially creating Rescue Engines) may be worth while. That way the county stations could handle "simple" extrications and only call in the heavy Rescue (or other county stations) on larger incidents.

    Also, your city department bills the county when the Rescue goes out there? We were looking to start billing but it would only be the insurance companies of non-residents.
    So you call this your free country
    Tell me why it costs so much to live
    -3dd

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    • #3
      Thanks voyager9! It was pretty late last night and I did leave out a few details!!

      The city provides mutual aid about 80 times per year and of those, about 30 are for rescue. Our county has 11 VFD's with most averaging 40 calls a year but a couple that run about 85-100 per year due to size of their territory. The county is about 600 square miles. In some of the farthest reaches is can take city crews up to 30 minutes to be on scene. Local VFD's are usually on scene within 5-10 minutes. In the rescue scenario it would be closer to 5 because in this instance we are dealing with US highways and state highways for the most part. The VFD's are all located in close proximity to where they would be responding the majority of the time.

      As for having all the rescue efforts in one basket......unfortunately that's the way it is presently. Alot of that has to do with manpower and money sadly enough. Presently the city does not bill the county BUT this is what they would like to do and the county is saying hey....wait a minute....maybe there's a better way to do this AND increase level of services at the same time.

      No determination just yet-it's going to take time and lots of ideas before a consensus is reached. I'd just like to submit some constructive thinking to our commissioners/county judge as to how to best approach the issue since they are definitely not part of the service but they are about to make some very important decisions that will ultimately affect the city FD and the county VFD's alike.

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      • #4
        On the surface, it sounds like a winning solution. Puts more equipment out there in the areas it needs to be. Gets the equipment to the scene quicker as a result.

        Downside, the VFD's will need to add additional training. Having the equipment and not being able to properly use it adds nothing. Also, having the equipment and no manpower to use it adds nothing.

        Then again, this may also spark some interest in more people to get involved.
        "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

        Comment


        • #5
          if I read your original post right, the tools would be on one ambulance and all the separate VFD's would use them as needed? I hope not, I see several problems with that. 1 storage space. 2 having to wait to reload tools before transporting patient. 3 the useless feeling the VFD would have standing around waiting for The tools to get there. 4 How many VFDs do you have. how would you arrange training time ? 5 ok I will stop,,, I think these would need to be addressed before agreeing to anything. Do any of the VFDs have experience with rescue tools? Do they currently respond to MVAs and wait on the city crew and ambulance ?

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          • #6
            one other if I was reading right on one set of tools on the ems rig to be shared, Tool maintenance. if everybody can "Blame" or assume that some one else checked the fluids, ran the power unit weekly, cleaned and tested the hoses ect. thats not a good idea. Unless your ambulance crew is different than ours I would much rather have firefighters doing the upkeep. Nothing against the ems crew but they have enough to do when done with a run restocking and cleaning their stuff I dont imagine adding to the workload would make them smile

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            • #7
              Firemanpat: I think the proposal is to add extrication equipment either to the BLS units or VFD engines. I assume wherever the equipment is placed the on-board personnel would be trained in its operation. In general I agree with your thoughts about extrication equipment on BLS units.. FD-provided is probably better.. assuming manpower/availability is the same.

              firemandad: It sounds like a good idea to me. It puts more equipment out where it is needed and reduces the amount of time it takes to get that equipment on scene.. it also reduces the load on the single Heavy Rescue.

              As Bones said, training is vital.

              Also, it wouldn't have to be an all-or-nothing thing either. Take a look at where the rescue is responding most often and add extrication tools to those VFD's first. Also spread the new equipment out throughout the county. These new Rescue Engines could augment Mutual Aid (call them instead of the single Rescue). As time/money permits add additional equipment to other areas.
              So you call this your free country
              Tell me why it costs so much to live
              -3dd

              Comment


              • #8
                I agree, distribute tools to the depts that have the most need first. Unless it becomes a political peeing contest. I can remember 20 years ago when our VFD bought our first set of jaws. we had a call the second night we had them and wondered if we still wanted them after that. Good luck whatever they decide to do. and my nickles Worth of free advise is go to the university of extracation forum and read all you can. There is alot of good information.

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                • #9
                  hey yall, to clear up one item....the proposal is to place extrication equipment on a EMS vehicle of some type. In this county, they typically run 2 units to all EMS calls if possible-one is the ambulance and the other is a truck or suv which has an ems supv in it. So, space and re-loading would not affect patient transport. The tools would, in fact, be shared amongst all the VFD's with EMS being responsible for maintaining them.

                  Training will be provided to the VFD's and the EMS crews. It would definitely reduce the load on the city crews/heavy rescue. Out in the county though we have more heavy rescue and fewer simple "door pops" anyway because of open roadway and speed.

                  I could really care less about money-I'm out here trying to serve my fellow citizens. However- even though the city may want reimbursement now for only rescue, it will inevitably turn into reimbursement for all mutual aid calls and our rural areas are definitely growing quickly here.....so there would be no end if the county agreed to this.

                  firemanpat-please do continue poking holes....that's why i put this post up. after all we're all here sharing and learning. I would much rather learn something on this forum than to have to reinvent the wheel out on the scene before i find out. the knowledge on here is incredible! i've only been in the service 12 years and there's people on here that have probably forgotten more than i even know at this point!!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I agree that 1/11th of a set of tools is better than none. but possibly you could get a small generator, sawzall, cribbing, a windsheild tool and such for each first due engine? then at least your crew has something productive to do while waiting on the ems truck? How well do each VFD get along with eachother? any power stuggles or ego issues that would cause sharing issues? I used to be our biggest problem 20 years ago when I didnt know anybetter, Its all about working together and understanding what works in one county wont work in all. and I agree when we stay focused on topic this site has a wealth of knowledge. what state are you in? what kind of highways, 4 lane? limited access?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      after reading my last post let me clarify, the "something productive " was not a slam or a bash in any way. I meant that you would be active and the public would see you doing stuff not standing waiting on the tools. In our case even with our own tools we get set, and unless its life/death/RF NOW, we wait until ems is on scene and stabilizes patients.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        We are a small town volunteer department that runs approx 150 calls per year. We have what's called an auto-aid agreement with a neighboring city combo paid\vol department. We are dispatched automatically to their district at certain times. We agree to assist with structure fires or MVA's in the portion of their district that borders ours. They agree to respond to our district for any structure fire or if we request more manpower. We will also send an engine to cover one of their stations if they have a large incident. Other smaller rural departments in this area have similiar arrangements.

                        This cooperation has served us and our communities well. It also gives us an oppurtunity to gain knowledge and experience from a larger department. We also share drills when we can. If we or they are doing something like a training burn then we attend each others drills.

                        We also have a county training officers association that provides regular training for smaller rural departments. A larger department will host a weekend 'workshop' and for a small fee, any firefighter in the county can attend multiple classes.

                        This is what works for us. Granted, we are able to do this because we have rescue equipment and trained personel to offer to our neighbors.

                        My thoughts are if your outlying departments are able to improve their capabilities then the city would not have to respond and the citizens would recieve better service. You say there are approx 80 mutual aid calls per year and the proposal is to bill about $1000 for each. That's an estimated cost of $80,000 to the county. That will buy a lot of rescue equipment for the rural departments. Offer them some training also and everyone benefiets.
                        My wise and profound comments and opinions are mine alone and are in no way associated with any other individual or group.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Extrication

                          Here is what a former FD I belonged to did in this situation:

                          The city FD (combination dept) purchased a rescue unit and the rural FD (100% volunteer) purchased a rescue unit. The city rescue unit responds in the city limits and rural rescue unit responds outside city limits. If one of these jurisdictions has two MVA's at once, the other FD can send their rescue to the second incident. Also, if either rescue unit is out of service (maintenance, etc.), the other rescue unit can be the backup.

                          These two FD's organized a training organization for rescue training (extrication, etc.). Instructors are brought in and the FD's train together. If one rescue unit is short of manpower, the other FD can provide members for manpower. They train together and all have the same certifications.

                          Hopefully, you can put an arrangement in place that will work well for your county.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by firemandad View Post

                            I could really care less about money-I'm out here trying to serve my fellow citizens. However- even though the city may want reimbursement now for only rescue, it will inevitably turn into reimbursement for all mutual aid calls and our rural areas are definitely growing quickly here.....so there would be no end if the county agreed to this.
                            MY FD is similar to the combo FD you note here. Ours is the only career staffed FD in a county with 17 other VFD's all providing various levels of rescue capability. I only want to note that we've had many persons concerned that billing for EMS mutual aid or haz-mat would lead to reimbursement for all mutual aid. This has not and will not be the case with us. Generally speaking the term "mutual aid" is at the minimum disingenuous. We rarely if ever got mutual aid for EMS runs and certainly not for rescue calls, but conversely have enjoyed long standing box alarm style mutual aid for fire incidents. For a small municipal FD, calling in other towns is a reality we cannot ignore, so aid on the fire side is far more "mutual" than could be hoped for with EMS/rescue.
                            Last edited by RFDACM02; 07-23-2010, 09:30 AM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by firemandad View Post
                              hey yall, to clear up one item....the proposal is to place extrication equipment on a EMS vehicle of some type. In this county, they typically run 2 units to all EMS calls if possible-one is the ambulance and the other is a truck or suv which has an ems supv in it. So, space and re-loading would not affect patient transport. The tools would, in fact, be shared amongst all the VFD's with EMS being responsible for maintaining them.
                              I would rather put the tools and the personnel that use them on the same apparatus. Maybe it is because I'm used to FD-based Rescues (vs EMS).
                              -- If the Engine rolls with 4-6 members and the tools then they'll arrive ready to get to work rather then having to wait.
                              -- Also there is probably more space on an Engine/Truck for tools and associated equipment (cribbing..etc) then an SUV. I can't begin to picture how you'd store all the necessary tools on an typical SUV so that they're easily deployable.
                              -- The EMS Supervisor may not be on the Rescue call. I imagine they normally would, but imagine he's tied up filling out a prior 2nd rig call or something. His SUV won't do much good if it's not on scene.
                              -- If the tools are on their trucks then the members of the VFD will be more familiar with them then if they have to call in the EMS Supervisor's SUV for drills. This would also take the EMS Supervisor's SUV out of service while they're drilling.

                              Again, maybe it's because the FD is primarily responsible for Rescues in my area.
                              So you call this your free country
                              Tell me why it costs so much to live
                              -3dd

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