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Water rescue moves closer

North Whidbey Fire and Rescue commissioners moved one step closer to reaching a mutual aid agreement with Captain John Aydelotte and his company, Marine Services, for water rescue services at a special meeting Wednesday afternoon.

At the Dec. 11 fire district meeting, a few questions were raised about certain wording in the 22-point agreement that commissioners wanted to have clarified before signing.

The major sticking point was that commissioners wanted the incident command officer of North Whidbey Fire and Rescue to be the person responsible for making the decision as to whether to contact Marine Services for response in a water rescue situation.

Fire Chief Marv Koorn said all the changes were made and he has talked with Aydelotte about the amended agreement.

“John was not happy about item number seven where North Whidbey Fire and Rescue Command will make the decision if Marine Services are needed on each call, but he accepted the overall agreement,” Koorn said.

Commissioner T.J. Lamont said he understood the agreement was designed to use the fire district’s boat as a secondary responder.

“If we get a water rescue situation, he should be going,” Lamont said.

Commissioner Larry Morse remarked that the idea was for the Island County Sheriff’s Office to take over as first responders, but they are not in a position to do so at the present time.

“We are turning water rescue over to Mr. Aydelotte and Marine Services,” he said.

Lamont countered that they were not turning water rescue over to Aydelotte, they were merely putting his boats into service so the fire district could return to being secondary responders.

“If we are going to use Mr. Aydelotte as a ‘safety net’ maybe we should be concentrating our efforts in a different direction, like working with the sheriff’s office,” Morse said.

Morse said he thought of Aydelotte as a “resource,” but returned to the idea of the fire district purchasing another boat.

“That way we could back ourselves up,” he said.

Lamont said the agreement with Marine Services is a trial contract.

“We’ll try it to see how it works out,” he said. “If it doesn’t work out, we have the right to opt out with 30 days’ notice and then we can go in another direction.”

The rewritten agreement passed on a 2-to-1 vote with Lamont and Chairman Bruce Carman voting in favor and Morse opposed.

The agreement will now go to the fire district’s attorney for review and if determined it is properly written, it will be presented for final approval at the January fire district meeting.

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