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Change adds new level of emergency response with five area fire departments

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When an emergency breaks out, every second counts to save your life and property. And now there’s a new plan in place to ensure time isn’t wasted. It’s called Automatic Aid Response.

Our fire departments here in the LC Valley have long had a mutual aid agreement. That means they work together when a large incident happens but now they’ve entered into a new agreement which furthers that teamwork and enables them to better serve the community.

"Lewiston Medic 77"

When an emergency happens anywhere in the valley, our local fire departments often work together per a long-standing mutual aid agreement. But the process of dispatching from multiple agencies was outdated.

Patti Kelly, Whitcom Director said, "With all the technology the communications centers have, we've always still had to rely on a phone call."

So for the past 14 months’ fire chiefs from Lewiston, Asotin County, City of Asotin, Clarkston and the Wheatland Fire District have been working to implement automatic aid. Today the five fire departments came together at the Southway Boat Launch to celebrate the implementation of the new system.

“Anytime your emergency services can work together, it’s to the benefit of the community,” said Chief Cooper.

Seeing this to completion was a huge collaboration.

Lewiston Fire Chief Travis Myklebust said, “We had to map our community into zones, determine what is the closest neighboring departments to response. "We had to get all the dispatch centers tied in so they could put out the neighboring departments tones."

Each department has pre-planned response plans broken up by boundaries. Now when an emergency breaks out, dispatch just has to enter in the location and the system takes over.

"So as soon as we start touching the buttons, it automatically knows which department is to respond into which boundary,” said Kelly. “So it's actually very fast and very convenient."

So when the next emergency call comes in, which could be yours, these guys are ready.

Fire Chief Myklebust said, "The hard work of where we are getting all these departments together to where now we are gonna respond as one unit. The forming of five families, all coming together so that we can better protect our citizens’ as we are one valley here, the LC Valley."

This agreement comes just after Lewiston Mayor Jim Kleeburg proclaimed this week as Emergency Medical Services Week.

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