A Critique of Public Hospital District #1’s Reorganization of EMS

Posted September 1, 2020 at 8:53 pm by

We hear from Fran­cis Smith, Retired Sr. EMT & Fire Cap­tain (25 years)…

The San Juan Island Pub­lic Hos­pi­tal Dis­trict #1 (PHD) recent­ly announced a sur­prise reor­ga­ni­za­tion of San Juan Island EMS. Chief Karl Kuet­z­ing has been removed and the PHD Super­in­ten­dent is now in charge of the agency.

The pub­lished announce­ment is a study in duplic­i­ty and pro­found igno­rance of the nature of the day-to-day work of San Juan Island EMS. The word­ing of the press release indi­cates the PHD’s plan is to “fig­ure this out” after the major reor­ga­ni­za­tion with­out con­sid­er­a­tion of sig­nif­i­cant unan­tic­i­pat­ed consequences.

It is the cur­rent PHD, under Anna Lisa Lindstrum’s lead­er­ship, that has dis­card­ed all of the work done by the pre­vi­ous PHD Board and the Cit­i­zen Advi­so­ry Group and has walked away from the Fire/EMS inte­gra­tion effort. The child­ish out­rage inci­dent dur­ing a recent meet­ing served as a flim­sy excuse to cease all pre­tense of work on inte­gra­tion effort.

The removal of Chief Karl Kuet­z­ing from his lead­er­ship posi­tion in the mid­dle of the COVID cri­sis is stag­ger­ing in the thought­less­ness, igno­rance and self-serv­ing moti­va­tion of the PHD. It is well known that the PHD was unhap­py that Chief Kuet­z­ing and Chief Norvin Collins worked coop­er­a­tive­ly to adopt a joint response mod­el with both an ambu­lance crew and a fire crew (with at least one EMT on board the engine) respond­ing to all per­ti­nent med­ical emer­gency calls.

The replace­ment of Chief Kuet­z­ing with Pamela Hutchins, who has no expe­ri­ence what­so­ev­er in the man­age­ment of a first respon­der orga­ni­za­tion, looks, sounds and smells like ret­ri­bu­tion for work­ing inde­pen­dent­ly with the Fire Dis­trict to pro­vide a work­ing COVID response mod­el that puts com­mu­ni­ty safe­ty first.

The work of being a first respon­der is haz­ardous, stress­ful and unlike any oth­er pub­lic ser­vice work. The sui­cide rate for first respon­ders is sig­nif­i­cant­ly high­er than for the gen­er­al pop­u­la­tion. Our first respon­ders need a sta­ble, sup­port­ive orga­ni­za­tion and a leader who can work on the front lines and in the man­age­ment chair at any giv­en moment. This need has clear­ly escaped the PHD’s notice as has the safe­ty of the pub­lic dur­ing the COVID emergency.

Fran­cis G. Smith
Retired Sr. EMT & Fire Cap­tain (25 years) 

You can support the San Juan Update by doing business with our loyal advertisers, and by making a one-time contribution or a recurring donation.

One comment...

  1. Although it is known to many of us who have lived here 30 years or more that the Smiths have served hon­or­ably in both our EMS and Fire Dis­tricts, I find it inter­est­ing that Fran­cis failed to dis­close that his wife, Rebec­ca, is a retired EMT (11 years), was active in the EMT Asso­ci­a­tion for sev­er­al years as the Trea­sur­er, and served as a fire fight­er for 17 years and a Fire Com­mis­sion­er for 6 years.

    More impor­tant­ly, how­ev­er, he failed to dis­close that in 2018 his wife was appoint­ed to the San Juan Coun­ty Pub­lic Health Dis­trict #1 Com­mis­sion­er 5 posi­tion. As report­ed by Hay­ley Day of the Jour­nal of the San Juans on Feb. 16, 2018 (online), Rebec­ca was appoint­ed by a 2–1 vote with Com­mis­sion­er Lind­strum dissenting.

    Comment by David Bentley on September 2, 2020 at 10:56 am

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By submitting a comment you grant the San Juan Update a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate, irrelevant and contentious comments may not be published at an admin's discretion. Your email is used for verification purposes only, it will never be shared.

Receive new post updates: Entries (RSS)
Receive followup comments updates: RSS 2.0