Hoquiam ambulance crews will no longer be responding to emergencies in Fire District 8, which covers the Pacific Beach and Moclips areas. That means residents can no longer expect advanced life support treatment from first responders.
But crews from Fire District 8, a volunteer fire department, will still transport patients to the hospital and perform basic life support.
“That’s what we’re going to have to do for now,” Fire District 8 Chief John Collum said. “Residents will still get a response, and we’ll do the best we can.”
According to Hoquiam City Administrator Brian Shay, the city ended the agreement after learning that the current contract was signed under fraudulent circumstances. The two parties signed the contract in November, but unbeknownst to city officials, the district’s chief and commissioners added a clause exempting the district from making payments if the City of Hoquiam receives any money from the patient.
“If you look at it, they basically replicated our entire document,” Shay said. “The heading is the same, everything is the same except that one paragraph.”
Both Collum and Commissioner James Hatten said they weren’t trying to deceive the city — they were just trying to negotiate a more fair contract.
Previously, Hoquiam crews were obligated to respond to Fire District 8 not only by contract, but by their trauma response boundaries. But the district stopped paying its bills last year, and the city officials changed the response boundaries, according to Hoquiam Fire Chief Paul Dean.
“When we had trouble with the district last year, we changed it,” Dean said. “We recently got notice from the state that our changes were approved.”
Dolly Fernandes, of the Washington State Department of Health, said Hoquiam officials are well within their rights.
“It’s in the interest of the citizens to have trauma care everywhere, and that’s why we encourage cooperation,” Fernandes said. “But we can’t mandate that they respond.”