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Four fire districts say new governance plan will lead to improvements in training, delivery for all patients.

Washington County has put its stamp of approval on an agreement that will draw public and private agencies together to improve emergency medical services.

The board of commissioners did so Tuesday, Sept. 10, after an agreement by the four public agencies that serve the county. They are the cities of Hillsboro and Forest Grove, Banks Fire District, and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, which covers eastern Washington County and extends to North Plains.

Michael Kinkade, Forest Grove fire chief, said the time had come to bring together efforts by public and private agencies that provide emergency medical treatment.

"This intergovernmental agreement will help us start resolving issues that we have been working on for more than a decade now," he told the commissioners.

"It brings us together so that we can have a common goal to best serve patients in Washington County."

Counties already have authority to regulate ambulance transports under a state law that dates back to 1981. Kinkade said the agreement goes a step further to put the governance of emergency medical systems under the county.

The Health and Human Services Department, led by Marni Kuyl, will staff the new effort.

"The shared governance will contribute to coordinated activities," she said, such as improved training and devising measurements for compliance. "They are designed to make the system transparent and improve on our emergency medical system."

Hillsboro Fire Chief David Downey said afterward it's a long-needed step.

"It will bring a public-private partnership we have not had before," he said. "It takes all the issues we have been working on independently and put them under one umbrella of the county for the entire emergency medical system, from dispatch to treatment and transport."

Rodney Linz, Banks Fire District chief, said: "We are working together for a common cause."

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