JoCo first responders partner to combat under-staffing

JOSEPHINE COUNTY, Ore. — Highway 199 in Josephine County has seen more than 200 crashes this summer alone, four have been fatal. But with understaffed first responders covering the area, law enforcement can’t cover everything. In fact, sometimes they don’t even respond to accidents.

“We have limited resources during the day and even worse at night,” said Illinois Valley Fire District Chief Dennis Hoke. “We try to help each other out.”

With small staffs, JCSO, Oregon State Police and IVFD are forced to work together. But twice this week Chief Hoke said law enforcement wasn’t there. His agency wrote on Facebook that OSP and JCSO weren’t available to respond to accidents. “We have to prioritize what calls we go to,” said Josephine County Undersheriff Travis Snyder.  “The partnership is vital,” he said. “We would not be able to complete our mission of general public safety if three entities could not work together.”

Chief Hoke said in some cases, multiple agencies aren’t needed. He said IVFD and American Medical Response get to most scenes first. “They reply on us a lot to give them information on what they’re responding to,” he said. “we reply on them if they happen to get on scene first to give us a size-up.” That interagency communication is something they couldn’t do without, even if it isn’t always perfect.

“It widens our availability as a public safety unit,” Snyder said. “It just makes us more effective, helps keep the public a lot safer and it’s more efficient.”

We reached out to OSP about the issue but have not heard back.

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