King County to seek Medic One levy renewal this year

Measure to raise $1.1 billion over six years to fund emergency response program

D.J. Sonsteng Photography

D.J. Sonsteng Photography

King County voters will be asked in either August or November to approve a six-year levy re-authorization for the Medic One program that has provided high quality and advanced patient care since the 1970s.

The new proposal supports a six-year budget of $1.1 billion with a property tax levy rate of 27 cents per $1,000 assessed value. The current six-year levy expires at the end of 2019.

That rate would cost the owner of a $500,000 home about $135 per year, said Michele Plorde, King County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) division director, in a report Tuesday at a Kent City Council workshop. The owner of a $500,000 home is paying about $110 this year at a levy rate of 22 cents per $1,000 assessed value.

“We are not the cheapest way to go,” Plorde said. “But we have proven time and time again that we have some of the best cardiac arrest (survival rates) anywhere in the world.”

The agency had a 56 percent cardiac arrest survival rate in 2017, the latest numbers available.

“That’s 253 people that survived that were clinically dead at the time of arrival,” Plorde said.

Medic One serves a population of more than 2 million, covering 2,134 square miles. In 2017, the agency had more than 200,000 calls. The average response time was 7.7 minutes.

King County Medic One provides emergency care using specially equipped medic units. Medic One paramedics because of their training, continuing medical education and close relationship with the medical community, can use an extensive array of emergency medication, equipment and procedures, according to the county’s EMS website.

The King County Council will decide later this year whether to put the measure on the August primary ballot or the November general election ballot.

Once the ballot date is determined, the Kent City Council is expected to vote on a resolution to encourage voters to support the proposal.

“It may cost a little bit more, but it’s not always about the dollar to me. It’s more about the success,” said City Council President Bill Boyce. “You talk about your cardiac arrest of 56 percent, that’s a lot of lives that have been saved. I think it’s a good program.”

Medic One, in its 40th year, employs more than 50 paramedics as well as other support staff.

“They are very particularly trained,” Plorde said. “They are trained to be physicians out in the field. They get over 2,500 hours. At the state level, the requirement for paramedics is about 1,200 hours, so they get over double than what they require.”

The county works with 29 fire departments to deliver Medic One services.

“We’ve got everything from really dense urban populations all the way out to the mountains where we respond to folks who fell off a cliff to everything in between,” Plorde said.

Four 911 dispatch centers and initial fire department responses help determine when Medic One is needed for more specialized care.

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