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Response Time Concerns In Wake of Josephine County Cuts

By Erin Maxson

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Soon, sheriff’s deputies won’t be the only emergency crews not responding in Josephine County. Severe cuts to the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office could also delay the response of firefighters and paramedics.

With a drastic decrease in patrol deputies, from 25 to 4, with 3 of those contracted to specific areas, other first responders are concerned they won’t be able to help those in need.

Rural/Metro Fire says when there is a potentially violent call-involving medical or fire; they need to wait for the deputy to clear the scene. For example if rural metro EMT’s were the first on the scene of a domestic abuse case involving a shooting or stabbing, they are told not to provide the life saving care until they know their lives are not also in danger.

“The situation is, we don’t know if that person is waiting to harm us. If they don’t want that person alive anymore, or for what ever reason, and we are coming into save them and help them, they may want to harm us to keep that from happening and we are not going to put our crews in jeopardy,” states Mike Shaw, with Rural/Metro Fire.

With only the sheriff on regular patrol for and 8-hour shift, 5 days a week, Rural Metro Fire says likelihood of Gil Gilberston being available is slim. The company AMR, which provides ambulance service in Josephine County, says they have a similar procedure. Their ambulance crews are allowed to prep for care, but they are not allowed to enter a potentially hostile situation until it’s cleared by law enforcement.