BENTON COUNTY (KFSM) -- At the beginning of the new year, the Beaver Lake Fire Department upgraded their ambulance service to provide a faster response to people in the area.
During the past year, Benton County facilitated a six district collaboration effort that led to a partnership with Mercy Hospital.
Even though the area may seem like a small community, Beaver Lake Fire Chief John Whisenant said they have a lot of ground to cover.
“Our fire district has a resident population of approximately 7,000 folks," Whisenant said. "So we are a small city, even though we are in unincorporated Benton County. We cover what’s equal to a small municipality.”
Bob Patterson, the executive director for Mercy's EMS program, said they were excited to help bring this change to the Beaver Lake area.
“It means that they are going to get advanced life support response quicker than they were getting it before," Patterson said. "It was previously being provided mostly by the city of Rogers Fire Department with a little bit longer response time. So this means that the response time will be reduced and they will get that advanced life support care a little bit quicker.”
Since the 1970s, the Rogers Fire Department covered that area.
With these new changes though they will focus their resources more on emergencies within the city limits.
“You know Rogers sees population growth between three and four percent every year," Rogers Fire Chief Tom Jenkins said. "This is a good thing for us because it allows us to keep those expensive and important units inside the densely populated areas of the city.”
Jenkins said they will still have the same amount of firefighters and paramedics on staff.
Along with the advanced medical system upgrade, the partnership also makes Lifeline 5, the hospital's medical helicopter the first in aircraft.
Patterson said in the past there was a rotation process when an emergency called for a medical helicopter but now Lifeline 5 will be the first call.
Whisenant has been with BLFD for ten years and said its great to see the department growing.
“For our community, for my family, when I moved to this community I didn’t have a family," Whiesenant said. "And now I have three children with one on the way. So the safety of my family is important and the safety of our residents is important. So its really great to see the progress the fire department is making and be a part of that.”