EMS facing another crisis

SJC Public Hospital District #1 (PHD) has made a decision to ignore the voters of Friday Harbor, the year-long research by the Citizens Advisory Group (CAG), SJI Fire & Rescue (Fire) and PHD boards, and over 56% of district voters, who all recommend merging EMS with Fire. Going against this overwhelming support of consolidation, they are now asking for another levy to try to manage the EMS system on their own. There are very few EMS agencies in the nation that are not part of a Fire organization; in fact, WA state laws are geared towards combined agencies.

The PHD board has made it very clear they lack the leadership skills to manage our important EMS system. There is not one board member with any emergency medicine experience. They fired the EMS chief and replaced both he and the superintendent with one person who has no EMS or management experience. 21 of the EMTs sent a letter of no-confidence to the PHD board and moved to Fire.

The EMS Administrator states response times and performance are great, but there is not complete data to show this. Our paramedics still respond from home, adding significant time to get to emergency calls. The $2M EMS station is geared to housing staff in-house 24/7 and since over 60% of aid calls are in town, this is important. Fire requires medical responders on shift to be stationed in-house 24/7.

Our well-qualified paramedics deserve good leadership and oversight. Vote NO for this levy and let’s complete the EMS/Fire merger. It’s in the best interest of our community.

Dan Paulson

CAG member

Former paramedic