To the City of Clearwater
With the recent events surrounding our Fire and EMS departments, I wanted to take a few moments and provide you with the facts regarding many of the incorrect, uninformed, and misleading comments being passed around the community.
The Clearwater Emergency Services currently has 22 volunteers, 4 of which are cadets. This is after a total of six (6) resignations on Tuesday night from volunteers. Those resignations accounted for a total of about 12 month’s experience. Not to discount their contributions, but the current force is staffed with a very experienced leadership team of two assistant chiefs, six officers, 14 firefighters, and 10 medical emergency personnel of which 6 are dual qualified. There are 4 cadets remaining in the cadet program.
The City of Clearwater has an automatic aid agreement in place with Sedgwick County to provide back up support to Clearwater and for Clearwater to provide back up support to them as needed. This agreement is not fee based, meaning there is no cost allocated to Clearwater when the service is used. The current agreement has been in place since 2011.
Recently, the County Commissioners have had several conversations regarding these agreements for all the small communities within Sedgwick County and have a review process underway. To date – no action has been taken in any direction.
Clearwater has always managed with a volunteer fire & EMS department and with the assistance of Sedgwick County, at least since 1976, under the formal automatic aid agreement. As a governing body, we are committed to our volunteer force and continue to support it through full financial funding.
As a volunteer force, we have consistently had a small percentage of calls we could not respond to for various reasons; we didn’t have a qualified resource available, we were already on a call, or the call required multiple resources. This percentage has not varied greatly over the past five years. I have looked. We currently run a monthly report that provides this information to the City Administrator and governing body.
With the departure of the director, who was a certified Paramedic and was the second qualified member on a large percentage of medical emergency calls on a daily basis, we will experience a higher involvement from the Sedgwick County EMS. We have spoken with them and they are aware of our needs. Our staff of certified medical personnel are committed to doing their very best to respond to each call.
With respect to the Fire Service, we remain very confident in our ability to meet the needs with our fully qualified volunteers.
Clearwater supports the cadet program and believes it is a path to properly teach, mentor, and blend young adults into the emergency services occupation. We also believe, the training and practical experiences must be under strict supervision to ensure the safety of the cadet, the safety of any trained firefighter or EMS personnel in the performance of their duties, and the safety of those we serve. We will continue a cadet program with these goals.
We will immediately begin the process of searching for a qualified director of emergency services for Clearwater. We will also continue to recruit those interested and qualified in serving our community as a volunteer firefighter and/or EMS department.
The governing body and I have full faith in the professionalism and dedication of our loyal volunteers and will provide them our full support.
Mayor Burt Ussery