PORT ORCHARD — With an EMS levy vote looming in the primary election in August, South Kitsap Fire and Rescue’s chief is reminding residents living in the fire district that emergency medical service is the primary reason why department personnel and equipment head out day and night responding to Kitsap-911 calls.
Chief Jeff Faucett said that 71% of all calls from Jan. 1 through May 31 this year that the department responded to were for EMS-related calls. That’s a 4.2% increase in EMS calls compared to the same period in 2020, he said.
Overall, Faucett said, call volumes have increased 5.4% as of the end of May.
SKFR is the largest emergency services provider in Kitsap County. In 2020, the fire agency responded to 10,845 emergency calls for help.
He said the fire district funds daily operations through two separate levies: a fire levy and one for EMS. The fire levy is capped at $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value, he said. The EMS levy, which collects funds for six years, is capped at 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.
The fire chief said capital items, such as engines and fire stations, are funded through voter-approved bonds. He said the fire district currently has no bond indebtedness.
“We want our community to understand how emergency services are funded,” Faucett said. “The EMS levy is an integral part of the funding for the emergency service our residents rely on most.”
Current EMS levy expires this year
South Kitsap voters last approved the EMS levy in 2015, which will expire at the end of the year. The fire district is asking voters on the Aug. 3 ballot to renew it for another six years at the previously approved rate of 50 cents per $1,000.
SKFR officials said the fire district’s EMS program provides both Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Life Support (ALS) care. BLS uses trained emergency medical technicians to respond to medical calls involving minor injuries. ALS is the highest level of care available using highly skilled paramedics who perform life-saving procedures that may be required in cases such as heart attacks, seizures or strokes.
According to Faucett, the EMS levy costs the owner of a $400,000 home approximately $200 per year, or $16.67 per month, for a 24-hour paramedic response. EMS funding is used for emergency personnel, training and certifications, ambulances, maintenance, fuel, medical equipment and supplies.