The forthcoming Emergency Medical Services (EMS) levy vote on Feb. 8 is all about renewing essential ongoing funding for this critical, lifesaving service to our island community over the next six years. Since the November vote, when voters did not approve merger with the Fire Department (falling short at 56 percent vs. the required 60 percent votes for approval), EMS under the SJPHD #1 is implementing an excellent new plan to move forward over the coming six years. These are markers of EMS progress:
• Recruitment of a new EMS Operations Chief and Training Officer, with paramedic level training and teaching experience, is proceeding well with a number of excellent applicants.
• A fifth paramedic will complete training and join EMS in the Fall of this year.
• Strong collegial partnerships have been forged and maintained with Peace Health, the Sheriff’s Department’s Dispatch Center, Island Air, and Airlift Northwest.
• With the arrival of the fifth paramedic, a call system based at the EMS station will be put in place whereby rapid response times can be assured night and day.
• A signed agreement with the paramedic union has been concluded that supports these goals.
• Purchase of the Island’s only long-term care facility, the Village at the Harbor, has been concluded with stabilization of its administration.
This will be the fifth levy renewal in the history of EMS on this island. They are here for all of us islanders, many of whom are still here because of their dedicated service. I am one of those survivors, having been resuscitated from cardiac arrest with my heart attack 20 years ago, with a two-minute response time. That rapid response time has been maintained as its average out-the-door time in 2021. Let’s support this excellent organization by voting Yes! on February 8.
John Geyman, M.D.
San Juan County Board of Health