It feels strange – letters

How strange. When I left San Juan Island just a little over 2 years ago, this island had a very strong EMS system that had the overwhelming support of the community. I had the great fortune of working side by side with amazing paramedics and volunteer EMT’s. I don’t say this lightly: this is an amazing group of people dedicated to helping their friends and neighbors at all hours of the day. I have recently returned to work as a flight nurse with Island Air Ambulance and am saddened by the animosity and rancor surrounding the upcoming levy. Now, I’m no fan of the previous EMS chief who I feel helped create this environment of mistrust in our EMS system. He is long gone however and budgets have been trimmed and cutbacks have been made. We still have a very strong EMS system and that is a blessing. I have worked in 5 different emergency departments in NW Washington and can say that San Juan Island EMS delivers excellent pre-hospital care. Do we really want to lose this high caliber pre-hospital care? I’m at a loss to explain why we are on the brink of losing such a great EMS system. Any of these paramedics could work in any EMS system in the country (and get a pay increase in many places!) and we are at risk of losing them, why? Because some in the community don’t want to pay what it costs to run a great EMS system. Others want to arm-chair quarterback a public agency’s budget and start to micro-manage line by line costs. Quality isn’t cheap. Living wages with decent benefits aren’t cheap. Of course, San Juan EMS is not perfect and public scrutiny is a good thing. I’m not saying that taxpayers shouldn’t hold government agencies accountable. But I think we have done that already by turning down the two previous EMS levies. Vote yes to save this EMS system that exists solely to come to help you out on your worst days. When my mom, Mary Frances (ye s THAT Mary Frances) calls 911, I want the best crew possible to arrive at her door with excellent, well maintained equipment, knowing that she has the best chance at survival. We have that now and I don’t want to lose it. Please vote YES to keep our current, excellent EMS system.

James Bryner