We need 60 percent approval

I am writing to urge the 60 percent-plus approval of the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) levy.

This is not only based upon 21 years experience here as a national park ranger, accustomed to dealing with emergencies, but also as a household member who has witnessed consistently skilled treatment that only a professional organization can deliver.

It is no accident that San Juan Island is celebrated for having one of the highest cardiac arrest survival rates in the nation. As the old adage goes in the San Juans: “If you’re going to have a heart attack, have it here.”

When an emergency call is made here today, it is likely that the first responder to your door will be an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), a volunteer who has had hundreds of hours of training. It is also very likely there will be more than one (they all monitor their radios), and there is a good chance it may be someone you know. Following quickly on the EMT is a paramedic, a seasoned professional who can perform advanced life support, such as place advanced airways, start IVs and administer medications as needed.

Take my word for it: You want these people at your door on “the worst day of your life,” as EMS Chief Jerry Martin recently described a typical call on a San Juan County resident:

I called for them twice within an eight-hour period several years ago, the last at four in the morning.

They were there within 10 minutes on both occasions and went right to work. While the paramedic and two EMTs were doing everything they could to save my partner’s life, another EMT was at my side, ensuring my well being and calmly going over what I needed to have for a med-evac to Seattle.

Still another EMT drove me to the red-eye ferry, which had been held by dispatch.

This was tangible evidence of training in action and what made me a life-long believer in the efficacy of professional EMS. But there’s more. EMS also provides CPR/Basic First training to citizens like you and me. As a park ranger, I arranged with EMS for CPR/First Aid training for my summer staff, as does every business and government organization that serves the public here. Though I have never had to perform CPR, I know I can render it thanks to years of training with professionals such as Lainey Volk, who stays current on the latest in emergency medicine. The next time you walk through King’s, attend a football game or wait in the ferry line, take comfort in the knowledge that a number of folks around you have probably taken courses in the EMS barn.

Believe me, this levy is a small price to pay for the peace of mind in knowing that my family, friends and neighbors have a chance at life.

Mike Vouri

Friday Harbor