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The Truth About County/City EMS Mutual Aid

For those who have lived in White Pine County for any length of time, the topic of emergency service mutual aid between The City of Ely and the White Pine Fire District is all too familiar.

As is common with any heated topic, there has been a flurry of rumors, misinformation and half truths perpetuated via word of mouth throughout the community. Hopefully we can provide our readers with some FACTS that will help as you form opinions and make plans to address elected officials about the issue.

Let’s do some quick “Fact Or Fiction”
RUMOR 1) “The City of Ely’s most recent “Mutual Aid” proposal to the White Pine Fire Commission would have closed outlying volunteer stations”
FALSE
After thoroughly reading the proposal, Commissioners and the District Attorney confirmed that there was absolutely NO closure of other volunteer stations written into the City’s proposal. In any case, the Fire Commission denied the proposal.
RUMOR 2) “This problem isn’t being solved because the City and County cannot get along
PARTIALLY FALSE
There have been multiple “Mutual Aid” agreements in place over the years. Fault can be found on both sides. From City units ignoring dispatch calls to City bills being stuck in a drawer by County Fire Chiefs and going unpaid for months. The most recent “Mutual Aid” agreement was in place and functioning. It was set to “auto-renew” June 30th 2018. That evening, Richard Howe (Chairman of the White Pine County Commission) received an email from [then] City Manager Robert Switzer announcing that the City Of Ely will NOT be renewing the agreement
RUMOR 3) “The Fire Commission just voted to shut down Station 1 and The City of Ely is taking over The Fire District”
FALSE
The Fire Commission voted to approve a Counter-Proposal to the City of Ely’s original proposal (referred to above).

That Counter-Proposal contains:

  • Payment to The City Of Ely of $100,000/yr for services rendered
  • Allowance for The City Of Ely to participate in the Ambulance franchise
  • $1/yr Lease of an additional ambulance to The City Of Ely to help with the increased calls
  • The City Of Ely is automatically dispatched on every call (and turned around by Incident Commander if not necessary).
  • The City Of Ely is required to hire 4 additional EMT staff. In their hiring process, County Staff are to be given the FIRST opportunity to interview for those positions.
  • The City Of Ely is required to hold JOINT trainings with County Volunteers and they are to be treated equally with City Volunteers.

There is NO language in the agreement indicating any change in operations at Station 1 or the County Fire District Volunteer Staff/Stations.

Understandably, things got a little confusing during the last Fire Commission meeting when a budget analysis that DID include elimination of PAID staff at Station 1 was presented along side the Counter-Proposal to the City. THEY ARE NOT THE SAME. Any change to the operations of Station 1 and the paid staff has yet to be discussed. It is also important to note that The City Of Ely still must approve the Counter-Proposal issued by the Fire Commission in order for it to take effect.

For those interested in expressing their feelings, opinions and ideas on the matter, there is a “Town Hall” event being held at the Bristlecone Convention Center in Ely. The event is scheduled for Thursday, April 18th at 6pm. The County Clerk’s Office has noted that you may submit letters to be read into the record. Letters must be submitted to the Clerk’s office or by email (wpclerk@whitepinecountynv.gov) no later than 12(noon) April 18th. LETTERS AND LIVE PUBLIC COMMENT will be limited to 3minutes.

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