Mutual Aid Program - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Mutual Aid Program

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BENTON COUNTY, Wash. --  The Richland and Kennewick Fire Departments are teaming up to provide better emergency service to the Tri-Cities.

In about two weeks, the Richland and Kennewick fire departments will start the mutual aid program. It is a program where Kennewick and Richland paramedics will work together when responding to medical emergencies on the border between the two cities.

Sometime the difference between life and death in an emregency situation is minutes. Richland Battalion Chief Ted Ricci says, "Especially in a trauma or heart attack situation, the first five minutes are crucial."

Before the agreement, if a Richland or Kennewick medic unit was busy taking a call, another city unit from across the city would be forced to respond and precious time would be lost. Now, if one's cities ambulance is busy, the closest Richland or Kennewick ambulance will respond to the emergency, regardless of whether it is in Kennewick or Richland's jurisdiction.

Richland Paramedic Randy Aust says, "Both departments have the similar goal to provide excellent service to the community."

Firefighters say the area of South Richland and West Kennewick is where the agreement will be used most. Both a Kennewick and Richland station are about the same distance from the border between the cities.

Kennewick and Richland Fire have always worked together in the case of a fire but the new agreement adds even further cooperation between the two cities.