Submitted by Bob Jarman
Chairperson of the Fire District No. 3 Board of Commissioners
San Juan Island Fire and Rescue Commissioners wish to congratulate the newly elected San Juan County Public Hospital District No. 1 Commissioners as you are sworn in and begin the learning curve working on the many opportunities and challenges facing the PHD.
One of the immediate opportunities you will be facing is how Emergency Medical Services are provided to our community. We, both commissions and leadership at the Chief and staff level, have worked diligently for months on bringing the two organizations together to best serve the community in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Understanding the nuances and best practices will take time and open collaboration, which we are looking forward to having with the new commission.
As part of our previously stated commitment, we will continue to table the duly approved Interlocal Agreement that was delivered to us by the PHD commission until such time that a broader dialog and commitment can be agreed to by both commissions. Given the turnover of the majority of the SJIPHD Commissioners, we believe it is fair and respectful for our boards to table any action until both commissions have had an opportunity to review and collaborate on the proposed ILA and path forward. All our integration efforts, including the ILA, are completely focused on the service to the community.
The history of providing core emergency services in our communities has evolved through the years. When the organizations separated in 1995, EMS was still evolving in much of the United States, San Juan County was no exception. Today, it is seen as truly comprehensive emergency services that provides the appropriate level of service regardless of incident, be it fire, medical, or otherwise.
We are at a time where leadership and organizational experience can bring a level of service to the community never before realized. Past chiefs did the best they could to serve the community. Until now, there hasn’t been an experienced chief officer with both Fire and EMS services. Chief Norvin Collins and Commissioner Cardinale bring more than six decades of combined experience in large, complex emergency services organizations responding to all hazards including fire and medical incidents. We are fortunate to have Chief Collins who demonstrates the applicability of his educational background with a Master’s of Psychology specializing in Organizational Leadership and Development, Executive Fire Officer credentialing that only 10 percent of all Fire and EMS Chief Officers hold nationally, experiences as the chief executive of a combined emergency organization for 9 years, division chief for the largest combined emergency services organization in Oregon, and over 30 years as a dual certified fire officer and paramedic.
With this level of experience, the work your interim EMS Chief is doing and the commitment of both commissions, we can continue our work integrating emergency services into one comprehensive organization. This goal is realistic and within sight.
The SJIF&R board is committed to work with the newly elected SJIPHD board to achieve the goal of providing integrated emergency response for our residents and visitors. We continue to do our work in preparation for integration, and we look forward to working into our bright future.