Renewing Medic One levy proposed by county executive

A measure to reauthorize the EMS/Medic One system has been sent to the Metro King County Council for inclusion on the November ballot.

The proposal, transmitted by King County Executive Dow Constantine, would reauthorize funding, with voter approval, for the next six years.

“This is a responsible proposal to continue investing in what works: a regional Medic One/EMS system that saves lives,” Constantine said.

The continued funding would sustain the regional system of 30 fire departments, six paramedic agencies, five EMS dispatch centers and 20 hospitals that deliver life-saving services throughout the region, regardless of location, day of the week or time of day. The system is recognized as one of the best in the country, and is acclaimed for its patient outcomes, including a nation-high 52 percent survival rate for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Most survival rates in the nation hover around 10 percent.

Developed collaboratively with regional partners, and endorsed by the EMS Advisory Task Force, the levy rate proposal for the 2014-2019 levy period is 33.5 cents per $1,000 assessed value, or about $167.50 for the owner of a home assessed at $500,000.

Specifically, the 33.5-cent levy rate will:

Maintain the existing number of medic units and not add any new units over the span of the next levy period;

Fully fund eligible Advanced Life Support (referred to as ALS or paramedic) costs;

Continue the contribution to support Basic Life Support (referred to as BLS or “first responders”); and

Continue programs that provide support to the system.

Transmittal of the EMS/Medic One levy rate is one important step in the process of getting a ballot measure before voters for the November 2013 general election.

The next step is for the county council to consider and approve a levy rate along with the 2014-2019 King County EMS Strategic Plan, which outlines how levy dollars will be spent.

In addition, state law requires that all cities with a population of over 50,000 approve sending the levy package to voters. Cities that have already approved the levy for the ballot include Bellevue, Kent, Federal Way, Renton, Redmond and Shoreline. The cities of Seattle, Auburn and Kirkland have not yet taken action.

Regional partners who support the levy proposal include the EMS Advisory Task Force, comprised of 19 leaders and decision makers from throughout the region, including representatives from larger and small cities and fire agencies; the King County Fire Chiefs Association; the King County Police Chief Association; the King County Public Safety Answering Point Association; the King County Board of Health; the Central Region EMS and Trauma Council; and King County Medical Program Directors.

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