Fire district to reorganize services

"The most active group of volunteers working for Fire Protection District 3 may soon get a whole new slate of officers to start the new year, officers who will be responsible for the safety of almost every person hurt in any kind of major accident on South Whidbey.Later this month, FD3's commissioners are expected to vote for a restructuring of the district's Special Services section. Comprised of about 75 volunteers, the division includes emergency medical services personnel and rescue personnel.Special Services Captain Darrin Reid said the restructuring will assign a captain and two lieutenants to both divisions, and will put a battalion chief in charge of the entire division. Currently, Reid is lead Special Services officer. He heads the rescue division, while Lt. Connie Shields-Stolcis manages the EMS division.Reid said the EMS and rescue volunteers are asking for the additional officers because of the growth in Special Services. Although the division started small in the early 1980s as the Rescue Squad, Special Services volunteers responded to almost every one of the 1,200-plus 911 calls the district took in 2000. Reid said EMS personnel alone responded to 80 percent of those calls. With so many volunteers and so many calls, Reid said, Special Services needs a larger command structure. It's hard for one or two people to run all this as volunteers, Reid said.Currently, each of the seven fire stations in FD 3 has a captain and one or two lieutenants. The district also has two volunteer battalion chiefs. Under the restructuring, Special Services would become its own battalion, which would include the equivalent of two stations worth of volunteers. Reid would become the battalion chief, while Shields-Stolcis would become EMS captain.The restructuring will be an almost cost-free change for the fire district, as all those involved are volunteers. The district will spend some money on EMS when it purchases two new SUVs later this year. The vehicles will be equipped with most of the medical technology that can be found on board a Whidbey General Hospital ambulance. "

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