New EMS chief eyes challenges

Way to lead Kootenai County emergency system

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Chris Way, the new Kootenai County Emergency Medical Services chief, is sworn in by Tracy Abrahamson recently in front of the Joint Powers Board and EMS stakeholders.

POST FALLS - Kootenai County Emergency Medical Services recently swore in Chris Way as the new system chief.

Way was the EMS chief in Labette County, Kansas, for the past 11 years.

"I was looking for a new challenge with a bigger system," Way said. "It's a good fit for what I've been hoping to do. My family is excited about the opportunity."

Way, 38, replaces Lynn Borders, who retired after holding the position since the system formed more than 10 years ago.

Way has 22 years of EMS experience, which also includes being a battalion chief in Kansas City, an EMT and paramedic.

Not counting fires, Kootenai County EMS responds to about 16,000 calls per year. The system oversees contract medical care provided by more than 400 employees who work at 10 county fire agencies and Harrison Ambulance.

Comparatively, Labette County responds to 3,500 medical calls a year.

"It's definitely a step up in terms of responsibility and numbers," Way said of the local position.

Way said he likes what he has seen so far and any proposed changes to the local system will come later.

"I'm really impressed with the level of commitment each of the fire departments have toward EMS care," he said. "I'm still learning a lot and trying to listen. There are going to be things that need changed. I'm just not sure what they are yet.

"EMS care has evolved a lot in the past 10 years and health care reform will continue to affect it."

Way believes his broad experience will be an asset to the system.

"I believe I'm connected at the regional and national levels, and I'm still a licensed paramedic," Way said. "I've worked in different systems - rural and urban - so I've seen what works and what doesn't."

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