Fire Districts Join Forces To Hire Full-Time Paramedic



Bing Brown photo

The photo shows Whispering Pines Fire District board chairman Harry Jones (striped shirt) shaking hands with Beaver Valley Fire District board chairman Sam Baker. Looking on are the district’s fire chiefs, Rob Berry (left) and Tom Zelkovich.

In an effort to provide full-time emergency medical service to residents, Beaver Valley and Whispering Pines fire districts have joined in an intergovernmental agreement to hire a full-time paramedic and split the costs.

The agreement, which became effective Sept. 1, also calls for both departments to respond to medical and fire emergency calls in either community.

The decision was made during a joint meeting of the boards of the fire districts, held Aug. 30 at the Whispering Pines Fire Station.

Both fire departments have trained together over recent months to improve fire and emergency medical service to residents, said WP Fire Chief Rob Beery and BV Fire Chief Tom Zelkovich.

The two districts, which are only about three miles apart along Houston Mesa Road, northeast of Payson, have trained volunteer medical personnel. However, because they are volunteers, they are not always available when an emergency happens.

“By working together and splitting the cost, we can ensure we have a paramedic standing by to immediately respond at almost any time,” Beery said.

Under the plan, the departments hired Mike Williamson, a certified paramedic who lives in Beaver Valley full time.

Williamson was working as a paramedic in Tonto Basin and as assistant chief in Beaver Valley. He resigned from both those positions to take the paramedic position.

Beery, who also is a certified paramedic, will be available many of the hours Williamson is off duty. During the few remaining hours that neither is available, the districts will hire a paramedic from a pool of qualified individuals in Rim Country.

“Our goal is to provide the best medical and fire service coverage in the most economical way for the residents of both communities,” said Zelkovich. “By joining forces we can be more certain we will have both the personnel and the equipment rapidly responding to emergencies in both our districts.”

The cost of a full-time paramedic is about $48,000, with the total being divided between the departments.


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