What is happening with San Juan Island EMS? | Editorial

What is happening with San Juan Island EMS? | Editorial

EMS is in trouble. Its management is in chaos.

In the span of just two days, two San Juan Island Public Hospital District 1 Commissioners resigned, the San Juan Island EMS chief, who resigned in October, rescinded his departure and the district’s superintendent resigned and rescinded her decision to leave.

What can we conclude? Something has gone very wrong.

What makes this turmoil even more disturbing is that EMS is a vital part of our community. We rely on first responders to help us at our most vulnerable times. Emergency services literally can be responsible for our lives and our deaths. So it is disconcerting when upper management and commissioners use their positions like revolving doors.

Moving forward, we ask the current commissioners Michael Edwards, Mark Schwinge and Anna Lisa Lindstrum and EMS Chief Jerry Martin to steer us into steady waters.

There is already a storm brewing about the group researching the possible EMS and San Juan Island Fire and Rescue merger.

The group is called the White Paper Committee. Its members are Edwards and Schwinge, Martin, San Juan Island Fire Commissioner Bob Jarman, Orcas Fire Chief Scott Williams, retired Lopez Island Fire Chief Jim Ghiglione and San Juan Island EMT Francis Smith. At the Jan. 24 meeting, the board decided to have them form a citizen’s advisory group to help oversee the alignment of San Juan Island EMS and fire.

We are concerned that this citizens’ advisory group is made up of commissioners and fire and EMS personnel. The members are closely connected with the merger and may not be able to make unbiased decisions.

We would like to see a separate committee made up of community members so that islanders can be informed of the pros and cons of this merger.

After all the disruption of last week, we urge the commissioners to be leaders in our community, and to take the public into consideration as they look into a merger between the EMS and fire departments.