Community & Editorial
A levy will ensure that King County continues to have the country’s best emergency medical systems.
On Nov. 5, King County voters will consider Proposition No. 1, Medic One – Emergency Medical Services Renewal of Existing Levy. The ballot measure asks county homeowners to pay a little more than $100 a year to continue funding the King County Medic One Emergency Medical Services (EMS) system.
As a Medic One paramedic who’s seen how our EMS system saves lives, I strongly urge you to support Prop. 1.
The Medic One levy is the foundation of the ongoing success of EMS across King County. No matter where you live or work, or what your income level or your ability to pay, the service you receive is the same. It starts with having neighbors who step in to give CPR. They play a crucial role in the 911 system, in conjunction with trained dispatchers who assist with telephone instructions for CPR or other care.
Then your nearest fire department unit steps into action, supported by an advanced life support unit staffed with two paramedics. Last year, more than 4,000 paramedics and firefighters responded to more than 172,000 calls to 911 dispatchers — an average of one call every three minutes.
The levy directly funds a regional approach to the efficient deployment of paramedic units, with an integrated public health medical management model. This continuum of care, which also includes emergency room physicians and hospital staff, was created from research and constant feedback through the regional system. It’s the reason for King County’s high survival rates from sudden cardiac arrest and trauma.
The King County Medic One system survival rate for witnessed cardiac arrests rose to 57 percent in 2012, by far the highest nationwide. Many systems around the country try to emulate our county’s Medic One success but generally fail, due to a lack of understanding of our regional EMS approach.
This tiered response system also provides the ability to adjust to demands as our health care system becomes more stressed. Paramedics are the eyes and ears of the public health system. Our regional approach allows medic units to respond to those demands and transport patients to the appropriate regional medical centers. The county’s Medic One system spreads the costs among all the citizens of King County, while allowing an extremely high level of medical care across all socioeconomic and geographic regions of the county.
The proposed levy will allow us to continue this service at a low cost. The countywide levy would institute a property tax of $0.335 per thousand dollars of assessed property value. That means the cost to the average homeowner in 2014 will be $107 per year for Medic One services. In contrast, the expiring levy rate is $0.30 per thousand dollars, but because homes had higher values, the average homeowner paid approximately $110 per year.
While the proposed levy rate is $3 less a year than the current one, there’s an even bigger savings built into the system. There is no cost to anyone who calls 911 and needs services and/or transportation by Medic One. In other counties and some cities outside King County, citizens pay their local EMS provider. In some instances, people pay a transportation fee to the hospital.
We have come to expect the very best service for the taxes we pay here in King County. The Medic One system is a testament to EMS providers’ commitment to transparency and innovation. The service our system provides is second to none.
The paramedics and firefighters of King County are committed to serving county residents. We support Prop 1. We ask you to join us.
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