County supervisors on Tuesday will consider whether to withdraw from a joint powers authority that oversees emergency medical services for 10 Northern California counties and create a Yolo County EMS agency instead.
A committee of area fire chiefs is recommending the action, which would create a local EMS agency that would be administered as a division within the county health department.
Yolo County was one of the founding members of the Sierra-Sacramento Valley Emergency Medical Services Agency, which was created in 1975 by five counties and later joined by five more. The agency currently includes Siskiyou, Shasta, Tehama, Butte, Colusa, Sutter, Yuba, Nevada, Placer and Yolo counties.
Noting that Yolo County had significantly grown and changed in the 37 years since the agency was first formed — and that the agency itself had significantly expanded — supervisors requested a formal assessment in 2011 to determine whether changes or improvements to the system were needed locally.
That assessment, presented to supervisors in August, recommended a number of changes but did not specifically call for the county to withdraw from the 10-county joint powers authority.
However, the report by Fitch & Associates did draw the ire of local fire chiefs at the August meeting.
Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation Fire Chief Gary Fredericksen called the report “a 65-page document we paid a lot of money for and it gives no real direction.”
The $65,000 report, paid for by the cities of Davis, West Sacramento, Woodland and Winters, as well as by UC Davis and the Yocha Dehe Tribe and with federal grant money, “didn’t do us justice,” Fredericksen said.
Among the concerns he and UCD Fire Chief Nathan Trauernicht shared with supervisors were the report’s recommendation to save money by increasing ambulance response times within some parts of the county.
“The study calls for increased response times,” Fredericksen said. “If you live in (El Macero), your response time will be 15 minutes. Currently it’s seven minutes. There (are) concerns there.”
Fredericksen and Trauernicht said area fire chiefs were not fully included in the assessment and urged supervisors to form a subcommittee including their perspective to make further recommendations.
“If the firefighters aren’t happy, I’m not happy,” Supervisor Jim Provenza said, a sentiment shared by his colleagues on the board.
They voted to create a subcommittee that included local fire chiefs and that panel met several times in the past few months before coming up with the recommendation members will present to the board on Tuesday.
Committee members included Trauernicht, Fredericksen, West Sacramento Fire Chief Al Terrell, Winters City Manager John Donlevy, Yolo County Health Director Jill Cook, and Chief Barry Burns of the Yolo County Fire Chiefs Association.
In their recommendation to the board, the panel said switching to a Yolo County local emergency medical services agency would provide more effective, efficient and expedient services to Yolo County residents and ensure emergency pre-hospital and specialty medical services to Yolo County are provided in a timely manner and are of the highest quality standards of care.
The subcommittee is recommending that Yolo initially contract with Solano County for oversight and administration of the Yolo agency.
According to county staff, Yolo’s current contract with the Sierra-Sacramento Valley EMS agency requires a six-month notification to withdraw and would also require the county to pay the JPA $359,900 prior to withdrawal. No long-term impact to the county general fund is reported. The county health department, meanwhile, has prepared an implementation plan and timeline for a new local agency.
The board of supervisors meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday at 625 Court St., in Woodland.
— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy