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Tuesday, October 20, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Ballots due on Tuesday in Spokane EMS levy election

Tuesday is the deadline to return ballots containing a renewal of a long-running emergency medical services levy in Spokane. The levy generates about $8 million annually for the Spokane Fire Department, which has an annual overall budget of nearly $50 million.

Spokane voters will consider EMS tax in April

Voters will consider renewing a long-running emergency medical services levy in April, after the Spokane City Council unanimously approved putting it on the ballot Monday night. The levy generates about $8 million annually for the fire department, which has an annual overall budget of nearly $50 million.

Airway Heights fire to ask voters for EMS support

The Airway Heights Fire Department is asking voters to approve a levy of about 10 cents per day on a $150,000 home to pay for the increasing cost of responding to emergency medical service calls. “The city of Airway Heights has never had an EMS levy,” said Fire Chief Mitch Metzger. “All I’m doing is asking the citizens to pay for that service.”

Shawn Vestal: Lopez-AMR contract kerfuffle raises questions

Before the courts slapped down the mayor’s attempt to expand political appointments in the city’s hiring, one handpicked hire snuck through the gate. That appointment – the hiring of Mike Lopez as head of EMS services – illustrates the problems built into the entire approach. Lopez was hired without a competitive process. He was hired before his position had even formally been created. His hiring was justified by a bureaucratic rigmarole – title-shuffling and department-creating – and placed in a Catch-22 type of category, which Assistant Chief Brian Schaeffer described in an internal email as a “civilian EMS Chief that isn’t a chief.”

Editorial: Fire Department showed flexibility, creativity in medical-call solution

Health care reform has come to the Spokane Fire Department. Even residents with reservations about the Affordable Care Act should welcome the local changes. For years, city residents were accustomed to seeing firefighting apparatus, including hook-and-ladder trucks, respond to a call for medical assistance. The trucks were overkill, but rolled because firefighters needed to have them handy in case they were summoned to a fire.

Spokane Fire manager Mike Lopez once led local AMR

Spokane’s new integrated medical services manager was in charge of the local American Medical Response operation during at least some of the years that the ambulance company systematically overbilled city residents, documents show. But city officials say the problems began after billing duties were moved out of the Spokane office to AMR’s regional headquarters in Seattle between late 2002 and early 2003 as part of a corporate restructuring. The company agreed to a nearly $1 million settlement in 2010 over years of lucrative billing flaws involving Spokane residents.

Hire for Spokane Fire Department faces challenge

Spokane Mayor David Condon is putting a new political appointee on the fire department’s payroll despite last month’s legal ruling that limited his ability to bypass the city’s traditional civil service rules. Mike Lopez, a widely recognized emergency medical expert who has held key roles in developing statewide EMS policies, is scheduled to start Monday as the fire department’s new assistant director of integrated medical services. The mayor’s office contends it should be considered a “grandfathered” appointment since the offer was finalized four days before the April 25 Spokane County Superior Court ruling that partially scrapped Condon’s reorganization.

Task force calls for restoring fire service on South Hill

A mayoral task force says Spokane should return first-response firefighting capability to a South Hill fire station. But Mayor David Condon doesn’t appear ready to take that advice just yet. Condon’s proposed 2014 budget, unveiled Tuesday, includes no extra money for adding the four firefighting positions needed to make it happen.

Fire Department shifts medical call protocol

The Spokane Fire Department has quietly made a dramatic shift in how it responds to medical emergencies. After years of insisting that it was best to respond to medical calls with fire engines and ladder trucks so firefighters are ready for the next call immediately after they finish work at a scene, this year the department began responding to some medical calls with ambulances or pickups.

Tribe’s ex-ambulance director faces theft charges

The former longtime director of the Spokane Tribe’s ambulance service faces federal charges of embezzling funds from the organization. Jack L. LeBret, 60, who was director of the Spokane Tribal EMS Department and a former deputy coroner for Stevens County, pleaded not guilty this week to four counts of embezzling more than $1,000.