Cascade Medical will ask voters to renew a levy that has supported ambulance service and emergency medical care in the Upper Valley for 30 years. Ballots for the Feb. 12 election will be mailed on Jan. 24.
The measure is a 6-year renewal at 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation — same as the levy that passed with 82 percent approval in 2012. If approved, the levy would continue to cost property owners about $125 a year for a home assessed at $250,000. The measure needs a simple majority to pass.
As a Level 5 Trauma Center, Cascade Medical’s emergency department provided care for more than 3,200 patient visits in 2017. More than half of all emergency patients were locals. The three most common diagnoses were chest pain, respiratory infection and head injury.
Cascade Medical ambulances responded to more than 1,000 calls in 2017. Ambulance crews offer both basic and advanced life support for the 1,200-square mile district — from the summit of Blewett Pass to the summit of Stevens Pass — including Dryden, Peshastin, Leavenworth and the Lake Wenatchee area.
The EMS levy provides about 26 percent of the emergency medical services budget, which is critical to maintaining ambulance service and keeping the emergency department open. That funding helps cover round-the-clock staffing, equipment, supplies and insurance for the ambulance department and emergency department. The levy rate has remained the same at 50 cents per $1,000 for more than 15 years.
Part of the EMS levy — about $90,000 — covers staffing costs for an ambulance located in the Lake Wenatchee area and operated by Lake Wenatchee Fire & Rescue. Since 2016, the partnership has cut response times by half, and the number of EMT-trained volunteers in the Plain area has doubled.