Communication and streamlining were the topics of discussion Wednesday night when Shoshone County Commissioners Jay Huber, John Hansen, and Sheriff Mike Gunderson met with Benewah County officials and emergency servicemen.
The two counties have a healthy and reliable relationship when it comes to assisting one another when emergency services are needed.
This resource sharing has mostly occurred when Shoshone County’s more southern communities such as Calder, Clarkia, or Avery have needed assistance.
An example of this collaboration is when 74- year old Charles Peterson of Calder, ID fell down an embankment last Oct. near Lemonade Peak and it took the combined resources of the Shoshone County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO), Benewah County Sheriff‘s Office (BCSO), St. Maries Ambulance, St. Maries Fire, and even Fairchild Air Force Base to rescue him.
Also, more recently, the two counties had to work together last week when the ice dam on the St. Joe River gave way and put Calder at risk of flooding.
The nature of this cooperation is quite unique, and due mostly to geography.
Although the communities of Calder, Avery, and Clarkia are in Shoshone County, emergency crews in St. Maries can reach them faster (roughly 45 minutes) than ones in Wallace (roughly an hour and a half depending on mountain pass closures and road conditions).
Although the teamwork has always been present, there can always be room for improvement.
“We need to rely on each other as much as we can,” Commissioner Huber said. “We need those open lines of communication with everyone.”
Sheriff Gunderson pointed out that the two agencies currently use different frequencies on their radios, forcing them to contact their own dispatch center, then route them to the other’s dispatch center.
By sharing frequencies, emergency services from both counties would be able to contact each other directly without the middle-man; saving time and possibly saving lives.
Gunderson also stressed the importance of the meeting for the sole purpose of keeping good relations with our neighboring county, saying that its has been several years since a meeting like this has taken place.
More meetings between the two counties have been set for a future date.