A community decision | IN OUR OPINION

  - Bainbridge Island Review photo
— image credit: Bainbridge Island Review photo

It’s a relationship that has withstood the test of time.

What the future holds is a different question.

The Bainbridge Island Fire Department and the Bainbridge Island Ambulance Association have a decades-long partnership for providing emergency services to island residents. Since 1999, the relationship has been formalized under a contract for services between the department and the nonprofit.

Although the current contract does not carry an expiration date, a new agreement has been in the works that sets higher standards for the ambulance association.

Officials with the BIAA are the first to acknowledge that expectations for medical emergency transports have risen over the years, and that the nonprofit must continue to improve its operations to meet the public’s greater demands.

Some, however, have suggested that Bainbridge should seek out competing bids for the transport of patients that are currently handled by the BIAA. The repeated call for an “request for proposals” has been pushed by Fire Commission Board Chairman Dan Morrow, though many are concerned that the RFP effort is a solution in search of a problem, and not the other way around.

Indeed, we have heard no compelling reasons why a for-profit ambulance company is the superior choice over a volunteer-run, nonprofit organization that has served Bainbridge Island since 1946. Those pressing the RFP should be upfront in their reasons why the effort should be undertaken.

The Bainbridge fire board has put off a decision on a new contract with the BIAA until 2014. Abandoning the current partnership, BIAA officials warn, will mean the permanent demise of the nonprofit.

Bainbridge Island residents have much at stake in the fire board’s upcoming decision. Islanders should make their opinions known to the fire board — a majority of whom will be new to their positions in January — on any potential change, as well as on the wisdom of spending the time, money and resources that an RFP process requires.


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