RAYTOWN, Mo.- A transition talked about since May happened in just a matter of hours Saturday morning.
That's when the Raytown Fire Protection District officially took the reins on emergency medical services for the city.
"We were ready," said Raytown Fire Chief Matt Mace.
The fire department picked up two ambulances from Raytown EMS at 6 a.m. Saturday. They responded to their first call at 10 a.m.
Negotiations about the transfer began in the spring, but it was only announced in September. In a press conference about the potential change, Chief Mace cited issues with staffing at Raytown EMS, which led to the Kansas City Fire Department frequently crossing into city limits to help.
"You want to be good neighbors, because certainly you can't staff for every occurrence. You hope your neighbors help you, and you help them, which is something that hadn't been happening," Mace said Monday.
At the time of the transfer, Raytown EMS had 11 employees. Two were able to pass the physical required to join the Raytown Fire Protection District, while two others failed.
According to IAFF 1730 President Taylor Seedorff, who represents EMS employees and firefighters, all of the Raytown EMS employees have been able to find jobs, either with other departments or with hospitals.
In the end, Seedorff said the men and women he represents didn't necessarily disagree with the transfer; rather, they were upset by the way it was handled.
"They hoped the process would have been a longer one, and they would have had more of a voice in it," he said.
Now that the transfer is a done deal, the union is committed to making it work and addressing any issues that arise.
The Raytown Fire Protection District is also committed to working through growing pains.
According to Captain Jeremy Bridges, firefighters are comfortable with the ambulances since they've worked out of them on calls with Raytown EMS. They've done all of the work besides actually transporting patients.
"Having our guys drive the ambulances, where the hospitals are, things like that that have to do with transport. Those have been the issues we've been working on, and it's just been different and busy," said Captain Jeremy Bridges.
There's more training ahead for the two Raytown EMS employees who joined the department. They will have to learn everything from putting on gear to actually fighting fires.
The department already filled 13 of the 15 positions created. Chief Mace hopes to add more former EMS employees to the group.
"Obviously these people have served their community, and we want to keep them," he said.
There's another major hurdle ahead for the transfer. The Raytown Fire Protection District still has to convince voters to approve the permanent transfer and a levy to pay for it.
In light of Saturday's transition, the city of Raytown released this statement:
"City staff and the Raytown Fire Department worked together to overcome challenges and make the transition as smooth as possible. The process will be ongoing, but today we honored the milestone and look forward to further progress as the Board of Aldermen, along with City Staff, serve the Citizens of Raytown."