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Cooperative effort is key for 2 San Juan islanders needing treatment on the mainland

Due to inclement weather, transporting two patients on San Juan Island to mainland hospitals for treatment on January 5, 2022 took cooperation from multiple agencies. San Juan EMS, PeaceIsland Medical Center staff, San Juan County Sheriff's Office and Dispatch, Island Air and Washington State Ferries worked together and both patients received the care they needed.

San Juan Island Emergency Medical Services sent out this media release.

We are feeling especially grateful for our partners. On the afternoon of January 5, 2022 due to weather, no rotary craft was able transport a patient to the mainland. We had a cardiac patient and needed to find a way to make it happen. Fixed wing craft from Island Air was unavailable.

We were spooling up a marine response with the sheriff’s department, hoping the weather was good enough, when we got a call that Island Air was able to bring in extra staffing to make the transfer.

The weather was getting much worse in the evening when a second patient dealing with pregnancy complications needed transported to the mainland. There was no airlift of any kind due to weather, including Navy. Due to the patient’s condition and the weather, it was not suitable to take the Sheriff’s boat.

We were able to get Washington State Ferries to send their Inter Island ferry to Friday Harbor in order to take the patient to the mainland. This allowed secure, safe transport of the patient and our crew in abysmal weather.

We did not do this lightly. We do apologize for those waiting on the interisland ferry last night, please know that this critical intervention made a difference for someone in need.

PeaceHealth Peace Island Medical Center (PIMC) sent a doctor and a nurse to assist on this transport, and we want to thank PIMC for doing everything they could to take care of this patient and for working with us on this.

While in Anacortes we got word that the ferry landing in Friday Harbor was having trouble [the ramp was stuck]. Vehicle traffic could not disembark. Instead of stranding an EMT on the mainland with our ambulance, Washington State Ferries allowed us to bring the rig back to Friday Harbor, to be unloaded when the tides or repairs would allow it.

San Juan Island EMS is proud to work with such dedicated people and organizations and wish both patients a quick recovery.

San Juan County Public Hospital District No. 1 operates San Juan Island EMS, pays a subsidy to support PeaceHealth Peace Island Medical Center, and will be acquiring the Village at the Harbor in 2022 and expanding long-term care services.

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