Danedri Thompson
Response times for emergency medical services were slightly longer and response times for fire services were slightly shorter in 2013 compared to 2012, according to an annual report provided from Johnson County Fire District No. 1, the fire and EMS organization responsible for emergency services in Gardner.
In 2012, the average response time for EMS calls within the city limits was 3 minutes and 41 seconds. In 2013, the average response time was 3 minutes and 44 seconds. For fire calls, on average help arrived within 4 minutes and 16 seconds in 2012; in 2013, help arrived within city limits within 3 minutes and 58 seconds.
As part of an agreement between the city and Fire District No. 1 for fire and emergency services, fire officials must provide the city with commercial fire inspections and hydrant testing. The agreement also requires that response times for fire and emergency services be shorter than 5 minutes.
During a Dec. 3 meeting, city council members agreed to extend the contract by one year. The city divided fire and emergency services from its public safety department, creating a city-run police department and contracting out other services three years ago. Johnson County Fire District No. 1 has its own taxing authority outside the city limits of Gardner, and when officials made the initial agreement, it was understood that the fire district’s taxing authority would extend to within city limits once rates equalized to a point where Gardner residents wouldn’t see increases with the switchover.
According to a report by city finance director Laura Gourley, that equalization is unlikely to occur prior to 2016. City council members Larry Fotovich and Steve Shute suggested that the city should consider running its own fire department in the future. Shute said a city approaching 20,000 residents should be responsible for its own emergency services.
Approximately three-fourths of all calls Johnson County Fire District No.1 responded to in 2012 and in 2013 were within Gardner city limits.
According to annual reports, the fire district responded to 1,720 calls between Jan. 1, 2013 and Oct. 31, 2013. Of those, 1,275 or 74 percent were within Gardner city limits. The fire district responded to 109 calls in Edgerton, 165 calls at New Century AirCenter and 171 calls in unincorporated Johnson County during that same time frame.
The department saw similar numbers in 2012. That year, the fire district responded to 2,075 calls from Jan. 1, 2012 to Dec. 31, 2012. Of those, 1,525 or 73 percent, calls were within the city limits of Gardner.  The district also responded to 113 calls in Edgerton, 193 calls in New Century AirCenter and 193 calls in unincorporated Johnson County.