Save EMS. Vote Yes

Save EMS. Vote Yes

Since the time this place first captivated me, newly retired and escaping the harsh and often socially dysfunctional far north, I have been heartened by the active island community dialogue, well-attended forums and town meetings that invite participation here. A polite atmosphere nearly always prevails even when hearing fact-challenged views that defy credulity.

There is a cohering effect in participation, in questioning authority and speaking one’s mind in front of the community that can rewire the community mind-set. No one person always gets it right. Nor can one often be on the “winning” side. At some point you have to step back a bit and take the bigger perspective and support a thing that is right for the greatest number of residents.

For the third time in so many years we are wrestling with the EMS levy. One thing should be beyond debate: the availability of emergency response and rapid medical treatment can seriously affect every single resident or visitor, in any given moment of need.

When my family and friends visit, some joyously young, many a bit long in the tooth, our shared, yet unspoken expectation is we are reasonably protected. Even on an island, or its surrounding waters with only a single source of rapid emergency response, one can have a chance to make it to see another day should tragedy or accident strike.

I voted NO in the last two EMS levy efforts because I grew to have serious, factually informed doubts as to the bureaucratic efficiency of EMS and the quality of the information conveyed to voters. I didn’t doubt the integrity of the individuals involved nor entertain a notion that we could all live with a 1970s era EMS.

A couple of things way outside of our control limit our options in this decision. First, is the outrageously expensive for-profit American health care system. Second, we must by law fund our EMS from property taxes which are based upon assessed values that inflate or deflate over time in no predictable manner.

We have rightly voted to support our library and Island Recreation through similar tax levies, as valuable community assets. However, they are in no way critical to sustaining life and well-being like professional EMS services are.

With fresh faces and talents in place at the Hospital District (some previously critical of the medical services status quo) and EMS, greater transparency, a clearer justification for the levy increase and a readable 2017 budget posted for public scrutiny, we should now step up to rebuild trust and retain excellent local employees (and volunteers) by voting YES on the present EMS levy.

A thriving community is a collective expression of the values of each one of us who cares enough to vote. Let’s not throw out the good in a futile search for the perfect. Vote YES for EMS.

Steve Ulvi

San Juan Island