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Salesman Dan Hadley talks about some of the store’s more popular concealed carry weapons June 30, 2016, at Red’s Trading Post in downtown Twin Falls.

Gooding County EMS is converting to paramedic-level service and wants a new station

GOODING — If you are injured in Gooding County, there’s a good chance that an emergency medical technician will be the first to come take care of you. But that could soon change.

Gooding County is pushing to make changes to its ambulance service — converting to a paramedic level within the next couple of months and looking for land to build a new station.

Gooding County EMS, which isn’t affiliated with any hospitals, has been staffed for years by emergency medical technicians. Since the county is remote, providing a higher paramedic-level service would allow for more advanced patient care and would be beneficial to the community, Gooding County Commission Chairman Mark Bolduc said.

Paramedics provide advanced life support, said Gooding County EMS director Barbara Porter. They can administer medications, IV fluids and conduct some invasive procedures such as for emergency airway access.

“It’s more of like a critical care level service,” she said, including for trauma and cardiac emergencies.

Most large cities in Idaho have paramedic-level service, St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center spokeswoman Michelle Bartlome wrote in an email to the Times-News.

Magic Valley Paramedics, which is owned and operated by St. Luke’s, has provided advanced life support for nearly three decades.

“Some of the smaller counties and cities provide either basic life support or intermediate life support, depending on volume and the financial support available,” Bartlome wrote in the email.

For Gooding County EMS, discussion has been underway for about two years about making the switch to paramedic-level service, Porter said.

Now, they’re just waiting on some supplies and equipment, and plan to make the transition within the next month or two.

“For the most part, we’re ready to go,” Porter said.

Gooding County EMS currently has employees with intermediate EMT certification. “Right now, we can do IV therapy and certain medications, as well as some cardiac monitoring,” Porter said.

Five current employees have already gone through the College of Southern Idaho’s paramedic program in order to prepare for the transition.

“Some of the employees took it upon themselves to go to paramedic school to be able to provide it for us,” Porter said.

Gooding County EMS has six paramedics — five full-time and one-part time — and at least 12 EMTs. It’s also looking to hire a couple more paramedics as backup, Porter said.

As Gooding County prepares to make the switch to paramedic-level service, its existing ambulance station on Seventh Avenue West in Gooding near the courthouse is obsolete, Bolduc said.

“It’s worn out for that type of use,” he said, noting the location also presents a safety issue since ambulances are driven in front of North Valley Academy, and the Idaho School for the Deaf and the Blind.

The station is a “pretty public area” and people walk by frequently, Porter said. With a paramedic-level service, “we can’t have that kind of foot traffic through here. “

There’s also a need for more ambulance bays, said Gooding County EMS assistant director Jon Kepler.

A new station would provide better security for the supplies and equipment, Porter said, as well as more space for the 20-plus employees and a dedicated area for training.

Gooding County applied in fall 2018 for a federal Community Development Block Grant to assist with paying for building a new facility. The county made it through the first round of cuts in the grant application process, Bolduc said, and is waiting on a final decision.

The county is seeking property for a new ambulance station. The county sent solicitation letters to property owners from the south end of Gooding to Wendell, Bolduc said, and received nine responses from residents who are willing to sell their land.

County officials have identified the top four preferred sites: one on the north end of Wendell, one on the south end of Gooding that’s owned by the Gooding Fire District and two a couple of miles south of Gooding.

Police: Twin Falls man arrested after firing gun in house 10 times


TWIN FALLS — A local man was booked into jail on a $1 million bail after law enforcement said he fired shots in a house Saturday night.

The Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office arrested Kenneth D. Sartin, 41, on charges of felony aggravated assault and malicious injury to property. He is also charged with two misdemeanor counts of injury to a child and one misdemeanor count of exhibition or use of a deadly weapon.

The arrest took place after law enforcement responded to a call from a residence south of Twin Falls late Saturday. According to court documents, Sartin was locked outside of the house but was reportedly breaking windows in an attempt to get back in.

Upon seeing law enforcement, Sartin raised his hands and lay down on the sidewalk before the corporal had commanded him to. A sheriff’s deputy eventually arrived to assist.

Witnesses told police that Sartin and a woman had gone out to a birthday party that night and he’d been drinking. They got into an argument, which escalated when they got to the house.

The woman said Sartin began firing a gun while she had her back to him in a bedroom. She was eventually able to force him outside and lock the door behind him.

Two children, ages 12 and 14, were in the home at the time. One of them called 911.

While cuffing Sartin, the deputy and corporal noticed dried blood and superficial cuts on his hands, plus a deeper cut on his forearm due to punching out two different windows at the home. Paramedics treated him on the scene, and police later took him to St. Luke’s Magic Valley Regional Medical Center for additional care.

Police found nine bullet holes in the ceiling and another in the bedroom wall. They also found 10 spent shell casings.

After being treated for his injuries, Sartin was booked into the Twin Falls County Jail. His bail was set Monday. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 15.

Twin Falls man charged with beating 10-year-old girl


TWIN FALLS — Police say a Twin Falls man beat a 10-year-old girl when she did the laundry incorrectly and he threatened her with brass knuckles.

David Herrera Gonzalez, 31, was arrested last week at his home and charged with two felony counts of injury to a child. He’s also charged with one felony count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and one misdemeanor count of battery.

According to court documents, the Twin Falls Police Department went Thursday night to the emergency room at St. Luke’s Magic Valley Regional Medical Center after an on-duty nurse called to report a 10-year-old girl with injuries from possible abuse.

The girl told police Gonzalez had hurt her while he was highly intoxicated because she had not done the laundry correctly. He punched her several times on her side and then put his fingers in her mouth and pulled her jaw towards him. She started to taste blood, the court documents state.

Police found bruising on the girl’s left hip and scratch marks around her nose and lips. A blood clot had developed inside her lower gum line and she had other injuries inside her mouth.

The girl, a relative of Gonzalez, said she’d locked herself in the bathroom but eventually opened the door when Gonzalez yelled at her, court documents state. He had a set of brass knuckles that had pointed metal studs on them in his hand. One of the metal studs scratched her hand, she said.

Gonzalez also hit her several times with a metal rod from a shoe rack that was in the bathroom, the girl said. She told police he’s beaten her at least four other times.

Police seized the brass knuckles when Gonzalez was arrested.

According to online court records, Gonzalez has been previously charged with various alcohol-related crimes and domestic battery. His bail was set at $500,000. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Friday.

If you do one thing

If you do one thing: A community dance will feature music by the Shadows Band from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Snake River Elks Lodge, 412 E. 200 S., Jerome. Admission is $5.

Border agents using firearms at lower rate

WASHINGTON — Firearms use by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and agents is declining, and less-lethal force is also down, according to data obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press. The decrease comes as fewer people are crossing the border illegally and after the agency overhauled how force should be deployed at the border.

There were 15 instances where officers and agents used firearms during the budget year 2018, down from a high of 55 was reported during the 2012 budget year, and down from 17 during 2017’s budget year and 25 the budget year before.

Despite high-profile instances in recent months where agents used tear gas on groups of migrants that included children, use of less-lethal force like tear gas, batons or stun guns are also down, to 898. That’s a decrease from the high in 2013 of 1,168, according to the data.

There are high-profile exceptions, like the shooting death by agents of a 19-year-old Guatemalan woman who crossed the border near Laredo, Texas, last May, but the firearms low comes as Border Patrol agents and Customs officers face an increase in the number of assaults, according to the data.

Fewer people are being apprehended crossing the border illegally each year — about 400,000 last year compared with more than 1 million in 2000. Those apprehended used to be mostly single men from Mexico, but now an increasing number of families from Central America are caught crossing the border illegally — since January nearly 100,000 families have been apprehended between ports of entry. From October through September 2018, about the same number of families was apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Complaints of excessive force prompted the border enforcement agency to commission an audit and investigation by the Police Executive Research Forum, a research and policy group. The 2013 audit highlighted problems that included foot-patrol agents without access to less-lethal options, and it recommended law enforcement not be allowed to use deadly force when people throw rocks — a suggestion that was rejected.

Following those reviews, major training and policy changes were made. Border Patrol agents now undergo scenario-based drills at the academy and learn how to de-escalate tense situations. They get 64 hours of on-the-job training on use of force. Agents and officers are authorized to use deadly force when there is reasonable belief in an imminent danger of serious physical injury or death to the officer or another person.

They have discretion on how to deploy less-than-lethal force: It must be both “objectively reasonable and necessary in order to carry out law enforcement duties” — and used when other “empty hand” techniques are not sufficient to control disorderly or violent subjects.

Officials say they deploy the lowest form of force necessary to take control of a situation, but instances a few months ago where tear gas was used on migrants that included children drew strong criticism.

As part of its review process, the National Use of Force Review Board looked into 14 different incidents and lower-level review boards took on 219 cases. The boards determine whether an officer or agent used force correctly or whether it was out of policy. Such instances are flagged for possible re-training or misconduct charges — which is handled through a separate channel.

The data does not include instances where off-duty agents and officers are accused of violence. A U.S. Border Patrol agent, Ricardo Cepeda Jr., was arrested earlier this week on attempted murder charges after he was accused of shooting his girlfriend while she held their baby in Edinburg, Texas.

As investigations swirl, Trump team ready to fight, distract

WASHINGTON — The White House has beefed up its legal team. Its political team is ready to distract and disparage. And President Donald Trump is venting against Democratic prying.

Trump’s plan for responding to the multiplying congressional probes into his campaign, White House and personal affairs is coming into focus as newly empowered Democrats intensify their efforts. Deploying a mix of legal legwork and political posturing, the administration is trying to minimize its exposure while casting the president as the victim of overzealous partisans.

“It’s a disgrace, it’s a disgrace for our country,” Trump said at the White House on Tuesday as he accused Democrats of “presidential harassment.”

Typically used to setting the national or global agenda, presidents are by definition on their back foot when they come under investigation. And the latest fusillade of requests for information has the Trump White House, already increasingly focused on the twin challenges of dealing with the probes and the 2020 election, in a reactive position.

Trump’s response points to his increasing frustration with Congress and his intention to seize on the investigations as evidence that he is under siege in Washington.

While Trump is far from the first president to bristle at Capitol Hill oversight, his enthusiastic embrace of political victimhood is still novel — and stands to serve as a key part of his re-election argument. Trump has made railing against the so-called witch hunt against him a staple of his rallies and speeches, revving up crowds by mocking his investigators and news coverage of their proceedings.

That attitude was emphasized Tuesday by Trump’s son Eric, who was among the 81 people and organizations that the House Judiciary Committee has contacted seeking documents as part of a probe into possible obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power. Calling Congress “incompetent,” Eric Trump told Fox News Radio “we’re going to fight the hell out of it. And we’ll fight where we need and we’ll cooperate where we need, but the desperation shows.”

Aware that the shift to divided government would usher in an onslaught of investigations, the White House began making defensive moves late last year. Seeking to be ready for the Democratic-led House, more than a dozen lawyers were added to the White House Counsel’s Office and a seasoned attorney was added to the communications team to handle questions related to the probes.

After Democrats took the House last November, Trump declared that they had to choose between investigating him and earning White House cooperation on matters of bipartisan concern like health care and infrastructure. Trump assessed publicly Tuesday that Democrats had made their choice, saying, “So the campaign begins.”

His aides had already made that determination, with press secretary Sarah Sanders issuing an acerbic statement late Monday calling the Judiciary Committee probe a “disgraceful and abusive investigation.” Trump’s campaign spokeswoman, Kayleigh McEnany, accused Democrats of stopping “at nothing, including destroying the lives and reputations of many innocent Americans who only have sought to serve their country honorably, but who hold different political views than their own.”

White House officials described their plan for addressing the mounting requests as multi-layered. Lawyers in the counsel’s office plan to be cooperative, but are unlikely to provide Democrats with the vast array of documents they’re looking for. In particular, they intend to be deeply protective of executive power and privilege — a defense used by previous administrations against probing lawmakers with varying degrees of success.

Trump said President Barack Obama “didn’t give one letter” when his administration came under congressional investigation. But Obama spokesman Eric Shultz tweeted that the Obama White House produced hundreds of thousands of documents for various congressional inquiries.

Meanwhile, others in the White House and the president’s orbit are preparing to do what they can to bring the fight to Democrats, preparing dossiers about Obama’s invocation of executive privilege when House Republicans investigated his administration. And all acknowledge there is no chance that Trump will stop commenting and criticizing the investigations.

The officials declined to speak on the record in order to discuss the sensitive planning.

The administration approach was on display this week as White House counsel Pat Cipollone pushed back against a request from the House Oversight and Reform Committee for documents related to security clearances for White House officials. In a letter released by the committee chairman, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., Cipollone called the request “unprecedented and extraordinarily intrusive” and offered to provide a briefing and documents “describing the security clearance process.” White House officials said the Cummings inquiries were seen by aides as a thinly veiled attempt to gain potentially embarrassing information on the president’s son-in-law, senior adviser Jared Kushner.

Cummings shot back that the White House position defied “plain common-sense” and said he would consult with colleagues on his next move.