Intergovernmental Cooperation – 2019 Winner

By Jeffrey Schmidt

North Shore Fire Department, cities of Milwaukee, West Allis, Wauwatosa, Greenfield, St. Francis, and Oak Creek
Improving Fire/EMS Capabilities in Milwaukee Region

When an emergency occurs, the public has little concern for whether the responders are employed by their municipality – they simply want help as soon as they can get it. Unfortunately, in the case of fire and emergency medical services in Milwaukee County, municipal boundaries used to get in the way of getting the closest most appropriate responder to a fire/rescue emergency. That began to change after a new MOU was developed in 2014 that set the stage for Milwaukee and participating suburbs to assist each other in responding to fire/rescue calls. However, becoming operational required changes to training, technology, operational procedures, and organizational culture. After months of hard work and collaboration, the “closest unit responds” approach is now in full implementation, with departments crossing borders several times per day to ensure use of the closest, most appropriate resources, regardless of boundaries.