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Davis Journal

Paramedics have mixed emotions as service shifts from county to cities

Aug 12, 2022 01:19PM ● By Becky Ginos

Paramedics assist a victim of a car accident. At first the county would only pay for one truck in the north end because they didn’t think it would work. After a year they authorized a truck in the south end. Courtesy photo

FARMINGTON—It was with mixed emotions that current and former paramedics gathered at Nicholls Park on Monday to celebrate 45 years of paramedic service with the county that will come to an end as it shifts to the cities. 

“It’s been a long, great program,” said Davis County Sheriff Kelly V. Sparks. “Everybody has mixed emotions but they are proud of the work they have done. It’s the best thing for the county. As a department we’re looking forward to the opportunity to function as an organization.”

Some of the original paramedics are here, he said. “We’ve lost a few over the years that have passed on.”

The current paramedics can make the decision to go somewhere as full-time paramedics or be in law enforcement full time, said Sparks. “Fire departments are hiring paramedics and gearing up. A lot of the staff will stay and work as deputy sheriffs. Most cities will have their own or are part of a fire district like North Davis and South Davis, they’ll get their service from them.”

Sparks said it’s been a smoother transition than he thought it would be. “There’s been great cooperation. We’re looking good to be fully transitioned by the end of December. We’ll start taking fewer and fewer paramedic calls and try to let them (cities) take as much as they can.”

Bert Holbrook and Bob Peters were two of the first paramedics for the Sheriff’s Office. “We were the first to go to paramedic school,” said Peters. “I was a sergeant in patrol and I had expressed a desire to run a program in the department. There were no full-time fire departments so they couldn’t run a paramedic program.”

Peters said he voiced that around. “Then I found an unsigned note that said something to the effect of ‘check out the paramedics in law enforcement in Kent County Michigan.’ I called immediately and they told us to come see what they do and how they operate their services. I went back there for a week, riding in their program. We adopted the program and that’s how the whole thing started.”

It’s grown into something huge now, he said. “But back then the county would only pay for us to operate one truck in the north end of the county for a year because they didn’t think it would work. After the year they authorized service in the south end of the county. Then it just blossomed from there.”

Peters was with the paramedic program for 10 years. “Then I got promoted but I was an active paramedic until I retired in 1987. I also flew with Lifeflight. Most of us were flight paramedics.”

It’s bittersweet to see it end, he said. “It makes sense. I just think of the thousands and thousands of lives saved in Davis County. That’s what I’m most proud of.”

“The county is growing and filling in,” said Commissioner Lorene Kamalu. “We want to make sure we have the best service in the most efficient way. This transition is city led and county supported.”

The Sheriff is such a respected leader, she said. “Those conversations were a true collaboration for an end result of how to get there. Something that is fair to all but keeping safety as the top consideration.”

In the beginning no one thought this could ever happen, said Kamalu. “It has happened and all the city leaders and a great Sheriff and his team get the credit. This gives us efficiencies without compromising services so the focus can be making sure that the service will only get better with change and never go backward.” λ