Truckee Fire still seeks exclusive operating agreement at Squaw, Northstar | SierraSun.com

Truckee Fire still seeks exclusive operating agreement at Squaw, Northstar

Jason Shueh
Sierra Sun

Sun file photoThe Truckee Fire Protection Districtand#8217;s pursuit of an Exclusive Operating Agreement for ambulance service outside of town limits has been met with controversy since the district placed a vehicle in Olympic Valley last spring, a decision that angered regional fire districts.

TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; Continuing to test waters for approval, the Truckee Fire Protection District is asking state officials for a better explanation as to why its application for ambulance services at Squaw Valley and Northstar-at-Tahoe was denied in August.

At last Tuesdayand#8217;s board meeting, directors learned a letter it sent to Sierra Sacramento Valley Emergency Medical Services, the local ambulance authority, had been forwarded to the State of California Emergency Medical Services Authority for review, said interim Fire Chief Bob Bena.

The fire districtand#8217;s pursuit of an Exclusive Operating Agreement for ambulance service outside of town limits has been met with controversy since the district placed a vehicle in Olympic Valley last spring, a decision that angered regional fire districts.

Truckee Fire eventually pulled the ambulance out after SSV sent a letter on May 11, giving a deadline of 10 days for the district to show cooperation with neighboring agencies Squaw Valley Fire Department and North Tahoe Fire Protection District, and to come up with a plan to improve ambulance response times within the district, which, according to SSV, have been out of compliance for five years.

Truckee Fire then sent an EOA application to SSV this summer, with state officials rejecting it in August.

At their monthly board meeting on Oct. 19, fire board directors unanimously decided to petition SSV, asking it to request the state to reconsider their EOA arguing the reason for the denial was vague.

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and#8220;Theyand#8217;ve never given us a definitive reason why they would not give us an Exclusive Operating Agreement,and#8221; said TFPD board member Gary Waters. and#8220;… We have not done anything illegal related to SSV.and#8221;

Director Ben Malone said the state has the power to deny the district the Exclusive Operating Agreement; however, the state cannot deny the district an EOA without first providing a specific reason why the scope and manner of Truckeeand#8217;s ambulance services is or has been inadequate.

June Iljana, deputy director of the state agency, said state officials have received the letter.

and#8220;We anticipate responding by mid December,and#8221; Iljana said late last week.

In an interview this week, Victoria Pinette, SSV regional executive director, said she could not speculate on the stateand#8217;s decision; however, she said Truckee merited a second EOA request because the stateand#8217;s rejection of Truckeeand#8217;s scope of emergency services and the manner in which they are conducted was unclear.

and#8220;Were asking them to take a look once again because the manner, scope and statute were not defined (in the stateand#8217;s rejection of the EOA ).and#8221; Pinette said.

Pinette said statutes referred to the stateand#8217;s current fire code laws.

Squaw Valley Fire Chief Pete Bansen, who was in attendance at the mid-October meeting, said there is no animosity between the Squaw Fire and Truckee; however, he said his fire department would oppose any agreement that would not allow Squaw to be a decision-maker in ambulance services and#8212; should Squaw decide to provide its own ambulance services in the future, or if the agreement would prevent Squaw Valley residents from getting the most immediate resources available.

and#8220;We do not favor the issuance of an EOA to another entity that would prevent us in the future to provide services of our own,and#8221; he said.

Bansen said heand#8217;s talked with Bena, whoand#8217;s assured him if an EOA or other agreement was created, the Squaw and Northstar areas would still have rights to ambulance services and be a decision maker.

and#8220;The two most important elements to us are that we want to make the decisions relative to our patients , not somebody else, and we want our patients to receive the closest resources available,and#8221; Bansen said.

In a May interview, Bansen said a large part of the dispute centered on who stands to gain ambulance revenues from Squaw Valley and Northstar patients.

Last week, Bena said the continuing pursuit of an ambulance agreement does involve funding issues and#8212; not for added revenues nor to bloat salaries and#8212; but to simply provide the same level of service the district has been providing.

and#8220;I think the continued pursuit of an EOA was to try to guarantee the highest quality of service and patient care to our community,and#8221; Bena said. and#8220;That being said, revenues do play a role.and#8221;