Bishop Fire Department is working toward for the town and surrounding communities through a mutual aid agreement with Symons. That was Chief Joe Dell’s presentation at this week’s Bishop City Council meeting.
“We’ve been informally assisting Symons,” Dell said. “An MOU (memorandum of understanding) will just formalize” the relationship.
Last weekend, there were four EMS calls within a 10-minute time-span, Dell said as evidence the agreement is needed. Symons has one or two ambulances available at any given time. If the need exceeds the number of vehicles, the call goes out to Big Pine or Chalfant fire departments.
The demographics of the service area is getting older. The younger people living in or visiting the area include hikers and rock climbers, horse-back and mountain bike riders—all fodder for the emergency room.
Dell’s efforts will give Bishop Emergency Medical Service for the first time, ever, according to Dell. Bobby Richards and Larry Huffman provided ambulance service in the past. Then it transitioned into a couple of different providers before Symons started in 1989. The plan focuses on EMS, transporting the patient when Symons is not available.
The department has more than $30,000 in grant funding; the total cost of the program will be just over $44,000. That would cover special equipment, outfitting the ambulance, volunteer stipends as well as training equipment, supplies and certifications. That figure also includes an increase in stipends paid to the volunteers. The actual payment to the firefighters won’t increase, but Dell anticipated the increase to cover the increase in calls.
Twelve volunteer firefighters are already certified EMTs with others just waiting for a date to take their EMT test. “All our volunteers are trained in CPR and first-aid,” Dell said.
Council members were supportive. “If this can save one child’s life, it’s money well spent,” was Councilman Jim Ellis comment.