March 07--NEWPORT NEWS -- The automatic mutual aid medical transport agreement between Newport News and Hampton is still on the way, even though it's been delayed by several months, officials said.
Acting Fire Chief Scott Liebold had said the mutual aid pact -- where firefighters at three fire stations in Newport News and three stations in Hampton would cross city lines to respond to ambulance calls -- would likely be operating by fall 2012. The two cities started seriously discussing shared service arrangements in early 2012.
The new goal is to start up by July 1, Liebold said.
Liebold said logistics and legal issues have caused delays, but in the long run it's better not to rush into it.
"I'm an impatient person, but I would rather that we do it right," he said.
Hampton Fire Chief David Layman agreed.
"We have some issues with merging the CAD systems (computer-aided dispatch), because right now we have two different computer systems," Layman said. "I would rather that we get all of that worked out before we start."
The new system should be more efficient because in some cases, the closest fire station for a Hampton resident is a Newport News station, and vice versa, officials have said. It will also help deliver faster service in cases when ambulances are tied up on other calls.
Liebold said attorneys are also working out the legal details of the pact, and they have to wait for the legal work to be completed before they can start responding to each other's calls along the eight miles of border that the cities share.
Two other shared services initiatives are further along, with the city implementing the shared hiring process for 2013 hires, and the combined warehouse is nearly completed.
The combined warehouse is in the Newport News equipment facility off of Briarfield Road. In the coming weeks, Hampton fire equipment will be purchased and stored in Newport News.
The savings for purchasing would be about $100,000, officials have said.
Copyright 2013 - Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)