Truckee Fire halts pursuit of ambulance agreement at state’s request | SierraSun.com

Truckee Fire halts pursuit of ambulance agreement at state’s request

Jason ShuehSierra Sun
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TRUCKEE, Calif. – The Truckee Fire Protection District’s effort to secure ambulance services at Northstar-at-Tahoe and Squaw Valley USA is on hold, pending a state task force investigation, officials said.The California Fire Chief’s Association sent a letter in late January cautioning the Truckee fire district to wait until a newly created state task force has completed an investigation of multiple Emergency Operating Agreements – regarding coverage areas of ambulance service from various districts – around the state.No timetable exists as to when the investigation will finish.”They’re just basically saying that it’s best to back off and take no action now and see how things come out with the task force,” said Interim Fire Chief Bob Bena at last Tuesday’s board meeting.According to the letter, the task force is reviewing details of the state’s health and safety code, which has apparently prevented Truckee Fire and other state fire districts to secure EOAs for nearby ambulance operating areas.The state warned Truckee that pursuing an EOA for Northstar and Squaw Valley during the task force’s investigation could jeopardize the district’s claim or future agreement to operate in the area.”Please understand that your ability to be recognized as an authorized provider will likely be affected by entering into an agreement during this time of negotiated rule making,” the letter reads. “If you intend to enter into an agreement with a local Emergency Medical Service Agency, it is recommended that you consider waiting until the task force has finalized a model agreement.”Because of the state’s guidance, Bob Snyder, vice chair of the Truckee Fire board of directors, said the district will not meet later this month with Sierra-Sacramento Valley Emergency Medical Services Agency (SSV) board to discuss the EOA and will halt all immediate pursuits to obtain one.Though optimistic about the investigation and its potential results for Truckee, Snyder said he is concerned with the state’s lack of a timeline.”I don’t know if that’s something we should step forward on,” Snyder said about the timeline. “What my thoughts are is that we’re not the only ones in this scenario, and so there are more groups out there like us, and so if we just sit back and let them gather the information they’re looking for, it might be beneficial for us.”The district has already waited more than a year to secure an EOA. Last month, SSV declined the district’s most recent request, in what fire board directors labeled as ambiguous in its description of the state’s Health and Safety Code and the “scope and manner” of ambulance services.While the district waits on the state, Bena said current ambulance services will continue to operate as usual based on the closest emergency responder to an incident.Furthermore. Bena said he will draft a Memorandum of Understanding between Truckee Fire and the North Tahoe Fire Protection District, which would allow Truckee Fire to operate emergency services in the area around the Northstar-at-Tahoe’s Highlands Drive, if it were to be the closest responder.While no formal action was taken, board members unanimously approved the decision to halt the EOA pursuit and to formalize the memorandum with NTFPD.”We’re working cooperatively with Northstar and Squaw Valley so there isn’t any negative relationship issues going on there right now,” said director Gerald Herrick “It appears to me that everything is working out fine now even though we don’t have an EOA (for Northstar and Squaw Valley).”