Planning pays off: Long awaited paramedic services proving successful for residents and employees 

Since this past February, King County Medic One (KCM1) has provided ongoing, excellent paramedic services to the Vashon Island community. Long in coming, this new service delivers to residents the best in emergency response through a seamless transition from Vashon Island Fire and Rescue to KCM1.

“For citizens of Vashon Island, the change will hardly be noticeable. If you call 911 and need paramedics, a medic unit will still arrive and provide excellent ALS (Advanced Life Support) care,” said Eric Timm, a Paramedic for KCM1. “The only difference is that the medic unit will be staffed by King County Medic One paramedics.”

The change in service though addresses issues of sustainability. Previously, Vashon Island paramedics were only able to see approximately 350 patients annually, well below the County standard. After other issues were identified, including turnover and staffing, the parties involved began to develop a solution that would both address these issues and continue providing lifesaving services to residents.

Pictured: From left, Senior Paramedic Tony Smith, Division Chief Matt Riesenberg, Chief Keith Keller, Division Director for King County EMS Michelle Plorde and Battalion Chief/MSO Paul Nordenger.

Considered a merger, this accomplishment follows over two years of extensive negotiations and planning. The groups involved in the process included King County Medic One, Vashon Island Fire and Rescue, IAFF Local 2595, IAFF Local 4189, the Washington State Council of FFs, IAFF International, the King County Council, and the businesses and residents of Vashon Island.

“The merger directly impacted so many different stakeholders,” said Eric. “It was critical that everyone’s thoughts and concerns were considered.”

“It was also important to get input from outside groups who had experience with previous mergers to weigh in on potential impacts.”

The merger has allowed employees and residents to benefit greatly from such a well-planned effort. Former Vashon Island paramedics who are now KCM1 employees can rotate throughout all of the paramedic units across south King County, gaining professional experience and community exposure. It has also created a more robust, coordinated paramedic system that ensures consistent service standards, provides increased training opportunities and offers a larger staffing pool of paramedics not only for Vashon Island, but for all of South King County.

Working out the best plan to deliver high quality, consistent paramedic and ALS services to the citizens of Vashon Island is another example of the way in which King County prioritizes health, equity and social justice for its residents.

“This allows the County, via King County Medic One, the ability to provide the highest level of emergency health care to the citizens of Vashon Island,” said Eric. “The paramedics of King County Medic One provide this care equally and without prejudice to all in need.”

More information about this new service and KCM1 can be found in several recent news articles, including this one from the Vashon Beachcomber and this one from Public Health Insider.