- Associated Press - Saturday, June 30, 2018

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) - Officials in western Wisconsin are considering consolidating regional emergency services in an effort to save money, but some surrounding communities worry about a loss of independence.

La Crosse County agencies have been considering the idea for the past 20 years, Wisconsin Public Radio reported . La Crosse Fire Chief Ken Gilliam said creating a regional agency would prevent redundancies in equipment and staffing, save money and create a streamlined response.

Gilliam said several recent fires near municipal borders highlighted a lack of coordination between agencies.

“We’re on different (radio) frequencies in some cases. We’ve got different training and education standards, so depending on which block you’re living on, you’re getting a different level of trained firefighter or EMT or paramedic showing up,” Gilliam said.

Campbell Fire Chief Nate Melby said the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System already helps coordinate regional response to emergencies. The system was created in 2010 and details which agency should respond if an area needs extra assistance.



Melby said agencies may need to update their response plans, but that the current system isn’t broken.

Local department help maintain a town’s identity, Melby said.

“Protecting life and property is our highest calling, that’s what we all get into this business for,” he said. “But it would be a mistake for me to say that the independence of our community is not a factor at all in the decisions we make around providing our services. That’s been a long-standing part of the Town of Campbell.”

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Information from: Wisconsin Public Radio, http://www.wpr.org

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