The word "historic" was bandied about several times Wednesday morning at the Ada County Courthouse.
Elected officials from Ada County, Boise, Meridian joined fire chiefs, and first responders today to sign a new emergency management system joint powers agreement, thus creating a pact to create a unified approach to emergency services.
"I do wish we had some more speakers though," joked Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, looking at the long line of officials. "Come to think of it, nine is quite enough."
The nine included Bieter's counterparts Meridian Mayor Tammy DeWeerd, Ada County Commissioners David Case and Jim Tibbs, Ada County Paramedics Director Darby Weston, Boise Fire Chief Dennis Doan and fire chiefs representing Eagle, Kuna, and North Ada County.
"We're always trying to make things better, faster and cheaper. It's very rare that you can get all three; normally you have to pick one or two," said Bieter. This is monumental. When you or your relative is in need, you want the most qualified people there as soon as we can get them there. And this is a huge step toward that."
Previously, the map of Ada County was splashed with different colors, each representing a different responding agency. But now, the County will be primarily covered through a joint operating agreement, allowing agencies to assist on each other's turf.
"This has been an effort that has been a long time coming," said Rick Yzaguirre, a former fire chief, Eagle City Council member and mayor and, for the last 10 years, Ada County Commissioner. "This is something I've been involved with for a good 25 years. It has always been fire versus EMS, or city vs. county; and it has been political at times. But at the end of the day, everybody has to come together."
The agreement, which is also expected to soon include the Star Fire District, calls for the creation of a Joint Powers Board and two medical directors, one each from the St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center and St. Luke's health systems.