The Cloverdale Fire District Board of Directors voted unanimously last week to place a local option levy on the May ballot to fund enhanced emergency medical and fire response for District residents. The Cloverdale District lies in the rural lands east of Sisters.

The levy would have a tax rate of $1.35 per $1,000 of assessed property value (not market value) for a period of five years. For every $100,000 of assessed property value, the cost would be $135.

According to the District, funds from the levy would be used to ensure two paid firefighter-medics will staff the main station 24 hours a day, seven days a week. At least one of the two on duty would have paramedic advanced life support training. Paramedics with advanced life support skills bring a level of emergency medical help on scene that was once only available at a hospital.

Currently, the District has just two staff members — the fire chief and training officer who can provide response from the station while on-duty and otherwise relies on volunteers to respond to calls. Cloverdale Fire response would continue to be supported by its volunteer firefighters and EMTs.

Local option funds would also allow the District to locate an advanced life support ambulance within the Cloverdale District. Ambulance service for District residents is currently provided by Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District; this arrangement will continue even with passage of the levy. Passage of the levy would provide for an ambulance to be stationed in Cloverdale Fire District, allowing for faster response and advanced life support when seconds count.

Cloverdale Fire District Board Member John Thomas has been with the District for more than 25 years, serving as a volunteer firefighter, captain, training officer, deputy fire chief, as well as serving on the District’s board of directors.

Thomas has seen the rural District become busier with 911 calls.

“We have seen a lot of population growth in the District and, with that, a tremendous increase in medical and fire emergencies,” Thomas stated.

“Our neighbors in the Cloverdale Fire District deserve the level of rapid ambulance and fire response that this levy would allow the District to provide. In today’s world, recruiting and keeping volunteers, who for close to 60 years have been and will continue to be the life force of Cloverdale, has become much more difficult.

“Having the ability to hire three permanent, highly skilled paramedic responders would greatly enhance the Fire District’s capabilities to provide quicker response times as the new personnel would work shifts that enable at least two paid firefighter-medics to respond from the station as soon as the call comes in.”

Currently the Cloverdale Fire District relies primarily on volunteer firefighters and EMTs to respond to medical and fire emergencies, with patient transport from medical emergencies provided by Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District located in Sisters. The current system can result in longer wait times for residents suffering a medical or fire emergency as volunteers must drive from their homes or work to the fire station for equipment and apparatus before responding. The fire district has tried to reduce wait times by providing dormitory rooms for volunteers who are attending classes at Central Oregon Community College. While this approach has helped to some degree, delays in response are common, and ambulances are still responding from Sisters.”

The Cloverdale Fire District and Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District have worked closely together for several years, coordinating response efforts. Cloverdale Fire Chief Thad Olsen notes that if voters approve the local option levy, the two districts, while still independent, would virtually operate as one agency through an inter-governmental agreement between the districts.

“This is an important opportunity to provide the people we protect with more efficient, immediate response in their time of need,” Olsen said.

For more information contact Olsen at 541-389-2345.