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Three OK after canoe flips in water off Orcas island

At 5:47 p.m., Orcas Island Fire Rescue was contacted by Sheriff’s Dispatch to see if anyone was available with rapid boat deployment capabilities.

There was a report of three people in the water from a flipped canoe off the west of Orcas, possibly from Freeman island.

Coast Guard was notified and were deploying from Bellingham while the San Juan County Sheriff was also preparing to respond.

Orcas EMT Bob Phalan contacted Mike Stolmeier who volunteered to assist in the rescue using his boat. Officer Distler, Phalan and Stolmeier responded from Smuggler's Villa.

While all this was going on, the people in the water were able to make it to the west shore of Orcas and were cold but unhurt. They were offered hot showers and hot beverages by the occupants of 684 Beach Haven Road.

The standard dispatch for outer island emergencies, including those in the water, alerts the Sheriff's own marine division, typically the Guardian on San Juan island.  San Juan Island EMS responds on the Guardian.  Dispatch will also alert the Coast Guard to ensure their awareness and response to water emergencies.

Orcas Fire Rescue Division Chief, Patrick Shepler said, 'They get very busy when a call like this comes in. They did a great job in quickly notifying all the right components in the emergency care system.

Fortunately, this event had a quick and happy ending."

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