Koons: Show support for EMS, vote yes on levy

I have been a member of San Juan Island EMS for 23 years and am justifiably proud of my co-workers and the services we bring our community. This letter comes from my heart, not my agency.

I first served our community as a volunteer EMT before attending the Medic One Program in Seattle for a year to become a paramedic. I respond to your 911 calls, work as a critical care medic on flights, and am the Director of Emergency Response. We have 33 dedicated volunteer EMT’s who put in countless hours of training to not only stay proficient with their skills, but to be on the cutting edge of medicine. At least one of the paramedics, and often two are on duty 24/7.

We have one of the best rural cardiac save rates in the nation. This is measured by Utstein criteria, and looks at neurologically intact patients leaving the hospital with little to no deficit.

Two years ago our agency became the only EMS service in the state to acquire CAMTS (Commission on Accreditation for Medical Transport Systems) Accreditation. This accreditation is usually reserved for flight programs but was also given to the ground 911 side of our operation.

A year later our air ambulance program received the competitive international Fixed Wing Award of Excellence from CAMTS for our flight program.

In June, due to financial constraints, all of our fulltime staff took pay and benefit cuts to prevent paring down any of the essential services we provide. This remains in effect until the end of the year, at the very least.

The services we offer go far beyond our 911 response and are provided by grants written by our Prevention Officer, Lainey Volk. We provide car and booster seats, bicycle and sports helmets, life jackets that can be borrowed at the Port of Friday Harbor as well as Roche Harbor for the Kids Don’t Float Program, and the Every 15 Minutes Program which is done at the high school.

Our Falls Prevention Program was instituted three years ago, and has reduced falls from 18% annually to just 10%. We do monthly blood pressure checks at the senior center, offer CPR and First Aid training, and put on Junior EMT classes for elementary school children. There are many other educational opportunities and programs available for free or at reduced costs.

The 'Vote No' campaign appears to politically massage the data to paint an incomplete, inaccurate and jaded picture of past to present EMS funds allocation.

If you are a resident of our taxing district, your copay for our services is waived for either an ambulance transport to the hospital, or a fixed-wing flight off island. If the levy does not pass, there will be more internal cuts made, as well as cuts to the services we provide.

A second failed levy will limit funds for many of these valued programs and will undoubtedly effect morale. The lack of community support for our volunteer EMT’s on-going training and response would certainly be felt. Please vote yes for the upcoming levy.

Sincerely,

Weyshawn Koons

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