As a volunteer firefighter and EMT with both agencies, I get to see first hand that emergency services takes a team to provide the best care that we can for our community. Together we provide a wide range of services, from basic and advanced life support, structure and wildland firefighting, technical search and rescue, marine response, basic hazmat, extrication, and community outreach and education. The only way we can provide these services is with a mix of medical and firefighting resources. And with COVID, it is clear we need to do more and provide an integrated all-hazard response for the community.
Thankfully we have two chiefs who take the same view, and have worked hard to coordinate the two agencies. Since the end of March, Fire is now staffed 24/7 with two to four cross-trained firefighter/EMTs and responding together with EMS on every emergency medical call. The results are clear on the ground; together we are getting to patients more rapidly and consistently, and to higher levels of care more quickly. We’ve almost completely removed the need to delay patient care by ten to twenty minutes by asking for additional resources once on scene. Together we’re taking better care of the community.
I’m disappointed in the Public Hospital District and Resolution 20-521. The board members did not engage with nor ask EMS members about how things were going before making their decision. Having a few private conversations with select members of EMS gives the impression of picking the stories the board wants to hear rather than engaging in a transparent and open discussion about what is best for the community. And please don’t sideline EMS first responders who are also cross-affiliated with San Juan Fire District #3; they represent half of EMS’s first responders and are some of the most active and experienced responders that we have.
Change is hard, but declining to provide improved emergency services to our community during a global health crisis for political and historical reasons is not right. Throwing out two years of work to integrate the services will prove expensive and sow division within EMS.
EMS Volunteer, REMT
SJFD#3 Volunteer, Firefighter