Idyllwild Fire Protection District (IFPD) Vice President Dan Messina led the Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 25, as President Henry Sawicki was absent. Commissioner Christina Reitz also was absent.
Fire Chief Mark LaMont lamented the ambulance situation where lower hospital staffing levels have created ambulance backup situations at hospitals throughout the nation.
He described to the board a situation he was in where they “took the patient down. He wanted to go to a particular hospital.” LaMont said he was in the back of the ambulance with the patient when they got a call that that hospital would not be able to take the patient. He called the hospital back and asked them to find a hospital. They told him he would have to do it himself.
So, he called another hospital but when they arrived, eight ambulances were waiting before them so they had to go to another hospital. “It is a rough situation,” he said.
“I want the community to know that we are still providing under three-minute response time but it doesn’t mean you’re not going to have a wait time at the hospital.”
In his report to the board, he showed December average medical aid response times as 3.05 minutes; fire-related at 3.02 minutes; and overlapping incident 30.27% of the time.
The commissioners unanimously approved an Automatic Aid Agreement with the city of Canyon Lake. LaMont said he has had several discussions with Canyon Lake Fire Chief Jeff LaTendresse “on how we may be able to help each other, especially [a city] as close to us as Canyon Lake. On their worst day or our worst day, we will be able to aid each.”
IFPD has several other similar agreements with the cities of Hemet, Cathedral City and Calimesa, as well as Riverside County.
No compensation passes between the entities, according to the mutual aid agreement. Each department is responsible for its own expenses. LaMont added that the agreement has been reviewed by IFPD’s attorney, as well as Canyon Lake’s.
The board also unanimously agreed to replace IFPD vehicle B621 for no more than $71,000.
The 2018 Ram 3500 was totaled in a traffic collision in Perris Oct. 1, 2021. LaMont said the Ram had only two payments left on the loan at the time of the collision, unfortunately. The wrecked vehicle is paid off from the other party’s insurance carrier.
“I’m not happy about the accident,” LaMont said, the first time he has spoken in and IFPD board meeting about the incident.
The driver, Bobby Clark, was not injured and he and board members expressed their relief, the first time they have made a comment about the incident either.
The man whose vehicle collided into the Ram suffered a spinal cord injury.
In other news, IFPD signed another dispatch agreement with Riverside County that ends in 2025.
IFPD will begin hazard abatement inspections of Idyllwild/Fern Valley properties late April or early May. He said 145 properties or 3% were out of compliance at the end of the 2021 inspection period and citations were issued.
The district sold three aged medic vehicles. It purchased a 2020 Dodge Ram 4WD 4500 as a medic unit with a $143,000 loan; a 2020 Chevrolet Suburban 4WD as an administrative vehicle with a $52,000 loan; and another 2020 Dodge Ram 4WD 4500 as the second medic unit for $172,000 cash.
IFPD now meets every other month so the next meeting is scheduled for 3 p.m. Tuesday, March 22. Commissioner Rhonda Andrewson asked LaMont to prepare a self-evaulation for the meeting.
The board then went into closed session to negotiate with the labor group Idyllwild Career Firefighters Association (ICFA) with LaMont acting as the designated representative.
In his report to the board, LaMont said IFPD has entered into a five-year memorandum of understanding with ICFA from 2021 to 2026.
Following closed session, LaMont said, “Labor negotiation direction was given by a 3/0 vote … No contract was agreed upon, direction was given; this will ultimately be acted upon in an open session by the board.”