South Whidbey Fire/EMS hired three new staff members in January by configuring its team to be more cost effective and efficient. The department filled one vacancy and created two new positions, bringing in-house critical services it historically contracted to outside vendors.
Filling the new positions are Michael Hastings, IT Support Technician and Alex Carlson, Fire Mechanic. The vacant position of Maintenance Technician is filled by Jake Grevé. All three are South Whidbey Island residents.
“We’re ecstatic to find such talented local residents to put in these positions,” said Deputy Chief of Resources Jon Beck. “Bringing these critical services in-house is already saving us down time and money. We literally put them to work on New Year’s Day. Nothing has slowed down since then.”
Quality technology systems have never been as essential, nor demanding, as they are today for first responders. From emergency response to communications and training, technology touches every aspect of the department and impacts its ability to serve the community. Even before the pandemic, the department was transitioning to new systems which rely heavily on strong technology support.
“Michael has over 25 years of professional experience with computers and other technological disciplines and spent the last 15 working for Island County,” said Beck. “Because of him, the turnaround time for fixing glitches has been reduced from several days to weeks, to just a matter of hours. It is such a relief to have Michael on our team.”
Carlson joins the team from Harborview Medical Center where he was the machinery mechanic. For many years the department relied solely on outside contractors for routine services and repairing our aging fire fleet of apparatus. Breakdowns are often very costly and can even put lives in jeopardy.
“In the past it could take several weeks for equipment repairs since they had to be done off island in locations like Sumner or Puyallup,” said Beck. “We expect to save a lot of resources by having someone dedicated to keeping our fleet in service.”
Grevé has a wide variety of skills ranging from carpentry and landscaping to plumbing and painting. He joins the department from his job as a park ranger in Snohomish County.
“He will be tasked with continuing the high level of maintenance our department’s facilities and grounds require as well as overseeing the continued installation of numbered address signs,” said Beck. “They all have challenging jobs and we’ll keep them very busy, but I don’t think they’ll miss their old commute!”
South Whidbey Fire/EMS provides emergency services to 15,600 people over 66 square miles. The fire district has some full-time and part-time personnel, but relies primarily on volunteers to respond to an average of 2,600 calls a year, many of which are medical emergencies.