TWIN FALLS — After the Twin Falls Fire Department began to offer emergency medical services in 2017, its annual call volume increased from 1,400 to 5,400.
“Twin Falls was probably one of the last major cities in Idaho that was not doing EMS,” said Fire Chief Les Kenworthy, who joined the department after it started those responses.
But in some ways, they weren’t as prepared as they could have been. Communication between the fire department and Magic Valley Paramedics is handled between two dispatch centers. The fire department sends three to four personnel out to each medical call, often in a full-sized fire engine. And sometimes, paramedics are spread thin between multiple counties and can’t get there right away.
“It’s very problematic on many occasions,” Kenworthy said. “There are several issues with our EMS system.”
The fire chief, among others, would like to see those things improve for residents and for the departments. Which is why on Monday, he’s asking the City Council to use contingency funds to help hire a consultant firm.
“We want this company to be looking at from the point the call comes in … to, in some cases, once (the patient) come out the hospital door,” Kenworthy said.
Ultimately, by getting some outside help, he hopes to better coordinate EMS between the city, Magic Valley Paramedics and Twin Falls and Jerome counties. This, in turn, should help improve response times and “come up with the best, most efficient system we can provide with the resources we have.”
The Council will be asked to use $7,653.50 in contingency funds and partner with Twin Falls County and Jerome County to hire the firm. The firm would evaluate opportunities for regional cooperation with EMS system design and operational changes.
Meanwhile, Kenworthy said he is looking into possibly getting an ambulance for the fire department as a “quick response unit” that would be able to transport patients if needed. It would also save fuel and wear and tear on fire trucks while requiring only two people to staff it.
The City Council meets at 5 p.m. Monday in Council Chambers at City Hall, 203 Main Ave. E.
Also at the meeting, the city will consider a project to improve safety for students walking to and from I.B. Perrine Elementary and Robert Stuart Middle schools. The City Council may authorize the mayor to sign a program agreement form for its 2019 Children Pedestrian Safety Program application. If approved, Twin Falls would ask the state for $248,500 to construct 1,200 feet of sidewalk on the north side of Caswell Avenue West from Sparks Street North to Washington Street North.
The money would come from surplus funds from the state and, if awarded, would need to be completed by late fall or early winter of 2019, City Engineer Jackie Fields said in her report. The city of Twin Falls would have to design, bid and administer the project’s construction.
Fields said a pedestrian crossing signal will be placed on Washington Street North at Caswell Avenue this year.
Also at Monday’s meeting:
- The mayor will read a proclamation declaring December 2018 as Veterans Suicide Awareness Month in the city of Twin Falls
- The Council will consider a request to approve a contract between the city of Twin Falls and the Twin Falls Rural Fire District from Oct. 1, 2018, to Sept. 30, 2020
- The Council may approve changes to the Municipal Powers Outsource Grant process
- The Council will adjourn into executive sessions for the purposes of considering the evaluation, dismissal or disciplining of — or to hear complaints or charges brought against — a public officer, employee, staff member or individual agent; and to communicate with legal counsel for the public agency to discuss the legal ramifications of and legal options for pending litigation or controversies not yet being litigated but imminently likely to be litigated.