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Thurston County, Washington

The content on the Thurston County website is currently provided in English. We are providing the “Translation” for approximately 10 languages. The goal of the translation is to provide visitors with limited English proficiency to access information on the website in other languages. The translations do not translate all types of documents, and it may not give you an exact translation all the time. The translations are made through an automated process, which may not result in accurate or precise translations, particularly of technical and legal terminology.

Medic One

​Thurston County's Medic One / Emergency Medical Services (EMS) System was established in 1974.  It was the first public, county-wide, tiered response, EMS system in the United States.

  • The Medic One/EMS System provides a fire services based basic and advanced life support emergency medical and trauma care and transport to over 281,700 residents within the county's 727 square miles.
  • The EMS System responded to 37,837 EMS calls during 2021.
  • The Medic One System’s paramedic units responded with a countywide average response time of 6.86 minutes.
  • The paramedic units accomplished an overall 94% county-wide response goal achievement for response goals of 10 minutes urban, 20 minutes suburban and 30 minutes rural classified areas.

​The approach is to involve all jurisdictional entities as participants in the system rather than a sole provider approach.

  • Twelve fire departments/districts are providers of Basic Life Support (BLS) and are certified at First Responder or Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) levels.
  • All Fire/EMS agencies function with one or more Aid vehicle (55 BLS units provide countywide coverage), averaging 6.75 minutes countywide.
  • All BLS agencies have been auto-defibrillation capable since 1986 and carry epinephrine for severe allergic reactions.
  • Most fire agencies are primarily volunteer with the exception of the larger municipal departments.
  • Olympia, Tumwater and Lacey Fire District # 3 are integrated as county-wide providers of Advanced Life Support (ALS) staffing seven units.
  • Paramedic transport units are dual-role (EMS and fire services) personnel and staffed with two paramedics.
  • Two private ambulance companies, Olympic Ambulance and American Medical Response (AMR), provide basic life support EMS and inter-facility transport.  Falck Ambulance also provides inter-facility transport.
  • Private ambulance companies provide four full-time BLS transport units and additional for peak load times.
  • The System is further supported by a private non-profit EMS helicopter service, AirLift Northwest, stationed at the Olympia Airport.
  • ​Medical communications is over cellular phone and/or HEAR (Hospital Emergency Administrative Radio).
  • Two hospitals are designated to receive EMS patients, Providence St. Peter Hospital and Capital Medical Center.
  • Both hospitals and TCOMM have compatible radio equipment to insure greater than 90% communication coverage county-wide.
  • The Thurston County EMS System participates in a state wide Trauma Center system.
  • In 2012, Thurston County implemented a program to be included in a statewide Cardiac and Stroke center system.
  • Cardiac and Stroke patients meeting state criteria may be transported to cardiac and stroke specialty centers.
  • Implemented in 2005, was an in-vehicle data system linking ALS units with the Dispatch center and county hospitals via digital radio modem.
  • Private ambulances are capable of hospital and system communication.
  • Disaster situations are coordinated on a designated VHF (very high frequency) band.
  • ​The Emergency Medical Program Director (EMPD) is staffed and paid by the Medic One office.
  • The EMPD provides medical direction and authorization for system function.
  • Prehospital standing orders/protocols, dispatch protocols, certification, training, testing standards, medical quality assurance and medical disciplinary actions are the EMPD's responsibility.
  • In 2012, EMPD medical support was initiated to Thurston County SWAT. 
  • ALS & ​BLS agencies use an Electronic Patient Care Reporting (ePCR) software called ESO to document all EMS patient care.
  • ePCR's may be internally reviewed at the Medic One office for quality assurance and quality improvement under a state approved QI plan.
  • Since 2014 all ALS & BLS agencies have been on electronic reporting.
  • As of 2018 Medic One has integrated all ALS and BLS ePCR's through ESO, allowing for an improved and more efficient quality assurance and improvement program across the county EMS system.
  • ​The policy making body is the Thurston County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC).
  • Advisory to the BoCC and the Medic One office is the Thurston County EMS Council.
  • The EMS Council is made up of 16 members:
    • a citizen-at-large from each County Commissioner's district
    • one citizen-at-large countywide physician
    • a BoCC representative
    • three Fire Commissioner representatives
    • a City of Olympia representative
    • a City of Lacey representative
    • a City of Tumwater representative
    • a Fire District # 3 representative
    • a south county Mayors representative for suburban/rural cities
    • an emeritus position
    • and non-voting members; the Chair of Operations Committee and the EMPD

​The Medic One office staff is responsible for developing and implementing system policies and procedures, recommended by the EMS Council and authorized by the Board of County Commissioners.

  • The Medic One office is responsible for county-wide:
    • system coordination
    • county to region system integration
    • equipment/supply purchase
    • staff support to the EMS Council/committees
    • EMS provider initial BLS training
    • EMS continuing medical education
    • system quality management (QM)
    • ambulance licensing
    • system financial administration
  • The office provides county-wide citizen CPR training and system education.
  • In 2011, Public Access Defibrillator (PAD) training was added to the citizen CPR classes.
  • The CPR program was enhanced in 2013 to add High School CPR training.
  • PAD trains citizens how to use a public automatic external defibrillator (AED) as part of the CPR programs.
  • In 2007, the Medic One system implemented a county-wide SafeKids (national childhood trauma prevention program) by partnering with Thurston Child Care Action Council.
  • SafeKids provides child car seat fitting/education, bicycle helmet fitting/education, water safety education and other child trauma prevention programs.

​The full-time Medic One staff is composed of:

  • Director
  • BLS Program Manager
  • BLS Training Coordinator
  • Medic One Training Assistant
  • ALS Program Manager
  • Business Applications Administrator
  • Business Applications Technician
  • Fiscal Manager
  • Administrative Supervisor
  • Medic One Purchasing Specialist
  • Senior Office Assistant

The part-time Medic One staff includes:

  • Emergency Medical Program Director
  • CPR Outreach Coordinator & Instructors
  • Cardiac Arrest Review Coordinator
  • EMT/OTEP Instructors

​The 2024 Medic One/EMS System is funded by:

  • $19.5 million county-wide regular EMS levy
  • rate @ .33 cents/$1,000 assessed value
  • this covers the county-wide EMS program
  • $1 million in other funding

The funding is used across the System with emphasis on full-time paid paramedic response and transport coverage.

The current Medic One/EMS program budget is dispersed as follows:

  • 67% to Advanced Life Support (ALS) activities
  • 12 Basic Life Support (BLS) activities - 6% of the BLS support budget is dedicated to CPR/Public information activities
  • 4% to administration
  • 4% Data support - supports ALS and BLS components of electronic patient records data system
  • 13% ER&R - Equipment Repair & Replacement fund