The Kirkland City Council unanimously voted Tuesday night to place reauthorization of the King County Medic One levy on the November ballot, formally accepting a compromise worked out last week that will allow a study of whether the city can become a paramedic provider.
The tax levy that provides funding for the highly regarded life-saving service must be approved every six years, and Kirkland is one of nine cities with populations greater than 50,000 with veto power over putting it on the ballot. The current levy is set to expire at the end of the year.
Medic One is a coordinated life-saving service by 30 fire departments and 20 hospitals that is said to result in King County having one of the highest heart-attack survival rates in the nation at 52 percent.
Kirkland officials balked at an initial proposal to reauthorize the levy because, they said, it would have prohibited any change in who can be a Medic One paramedic provider. King County, Seattle, Bellevue, Shoreline, Redmond and Vashon Island are the only paramedic providers in the system, and Kirkland wanted the opportunity as well, to better serve its residents.
All Kirkland firefighters are qualified emergency medical technicians, but paramedics receive a higher level of training and certification.
The initial plan would have allowed no changes in which cities could be paramedic providers, leading to objections by Kirkland representatives, and then criticism of the city by local firefighters union leaders.
Last week, however, an agreement was reached by King County’s Regional Policy Committee to remove the restrictions and call for an evaluation of Kirkland becoming a paramedic provider. The King County Council is expected to soon formally approve placing the levy on the ballot.
“Our advocacy efforts have paid off and we are thankful for the collaboration of County Council Members Jane Hague, Kathy Lambert and Rod Dembowski,” Kirkland City Council Member Toby Nixon, said in a city press release after Tuesday night’s council vote. “We look forward to future teamwork as the ALS (paramedic) study gets underway.”
For previous Kirkland Patch coverage:
- Medic One Levy Revived as Compromise Ends Kirkland's Standoff
- Firefighters' Leaders Flame Kirkland Over Medic One Levy Reauthorization