Dissolving Medic 7 suggested

By KARL SCHWEIZER

Herald Writer

EDMONDS — Check this out. A government entity may actually vote itself out of existence.

After years of fruitless talks about combining south Snohomish County fire departments and paramedic services, Edmonds Mayor Gary Haakenson is calling for a breakup of Medic 7, the multicity paramedic agency that responds to the most serious medical aid calls in Brier, Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace and Woodway.

All five cities pay for the service, which is based at stations in Edmonds and Lynnwood.

Callers to 911 could still get paramedics, but they would be working for a city fire department instead of Medic 7.

Disagreement over what to do with Medic 7 has helped torpedo fire department and medical aid merger talks twice in the past three years, wrote Haakenson, who is also chairman of the Medic 7 governing board, in a letter to the other board members.

The other obstacle to the talks, meant to save cities money by combining emergency services, is that egos have gotten in the way, Haakenson wrote.

"Politics and egos have gotten in the way of good government … The constant bickering over paramedic testing, firefighter/paramedics, levels of service and questions about a city’s possible withdrawal, has got to end. The battle for political power has got to stop," Haakenson wrote.

The Edmonds mayor suggested dissolving Medic 7 and letting the Edmonds and Lynnwood fire departments take over its paramedics. Doing so would remove one obstacle to the merger talks and let the cities concentrate on combining firefighting services, he wrote.

Another reason to do it is to give Medic 7 paramedics a sense of job security, Haakenson said. As it is, each year when city budgets are drawn up, the paramedics have to worry about whether a member city will drop out, leaving at least some of them without jobs, he said.

Breaking up Medic 7 would require the unanimous approval of its board, which consists of members from Brier, Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, Woodway, and Stevens Hospital in Edmonds.

Any city that leaves Medic 7 unilaterally leaves all of Medic 7’s money and assets to the remaining members.

Officials from other member cities seemed open to the dissolution idea, but warned that the devil lurks in the details.

"We’d be interested in making sure that whatever happens, no one is left in the cold," Mountlake Terrace Mayor Dave Gossett said.

Mountlake Terrace already is considering hiring Snohomish County Fire District 1 to provide paramedics, Gossett said. Other possibilities include hiring Lynnwood and Edmonds or training Mountlake Terrace firefighters to also function as paramedics, he said.

Brier Mayor Wayne Kaske, who is also on the Medic 7 board, said he, too, would consider dissolving Medic 7, but only if Brier received a fair share of its assets and could find another source of paramedic service.

The Medic 7 board will meet at 8 a.m. Thursday in Edmonds City Hall to discuss the proposal.

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