San Juan Island EMS Signs Agreement with Fire District Regarding Integration

Posted August 8, 2021 at 5:58 am by

The hos­pi­tal dis­trict is hap­py to announce that it has reached agree­ment with San Juan Island Fire and Res­cue to take over Emer­gency Med­ical Ser­vices on our behalf in 2023, pend­ing vot­er approval. “It’s been a long process, but we’re ready to sup­port the Fire Dis­trict tak­ing this to the pub­lic,” said hos­pi­tal dis­trict com­mis­sion­er Gail Leschine-Seitz.

This is sep­a­rate from the hos­pi­tal district’s deci­sion to acquire the Vil­lage at the Har­bor and expand long-term care for Dis­trict res­i­dents via a pro­posed hos­pi­tal dis­trict levy lid lift this fall.

An EMS levy under San Juan Island Fire and Res­cue will be on the bal­lot with an effec­tive date for fund­ing for Jan­u­ary 1, 2023 at $0.50 per $1,000 in assessed val­ue. This will estab­lish fund­ing for the inte­grat­ed ser­vice. The cur­rent San Juan Island EMS levy will be allowed to expire at the end of 2022 rather than being renewed, and there will be no over­lap between the levies.
“We’ve worked hard to say exact­ly what we’re doing and when, and this is con­sis­tent with our roadmap to imple­men­ta­tion passed last March,” said Com­mis­sion­er Trish Lehman. “We’ll use next year for a tran­si­tion­al period.”

This rep­re­sents the cul­mi­na­tion of sev­er­al years of work. A year-long Citizen’s Advi­so­ry Group begin­ning in April 2018 and end­ing April 2019 (and still post­ed pub­licly at https://sjcphd.org/integration/citizens-advisory-group-cag) out­lined numer­ous ben­e­fits to inte­grat­ing EMS and Fire into one orga­ni­za­tion: improved response times, depth of vol­un­teer resources, uni­fied com­mand struc­ture, sim­pli­fied levy man­age­ment, finan­cial ben­e­fits, and a uni­fied train­ing program.

Many of the steps in the inte­gra­tion process have already been com­plet­ed, most notably, the Fire Dis­trict annexed the out­er islands that the hos­pi­tal dis­trict cov­ers (e.g., Hen­ry, Johns, Stu­art) and suc­cess­ful­ly annexed the Town of Fri­day Har­bor last April. This makes the bound­aries of both dis­tricts the same, facil­i­tat­ing a smooth tran­si­tion for residents.

“One of the excit­ing things about an inte­grat­ed ser­vice is the abil­i­ty to pro­vide bet­ter marine response by pool­ing resources,” said Nathan But­ler, Super­in­ten­dent and cur­rent EMS Admin­is­tra­tor: “The oth­er thing I’m real­ly excit­ed about is sub­stan­tial­ly more staffing depth, with over 15 full-time respon­ders, plus lead­er­ship and vol­un­teers. Dur­ing COVID-19 we couldn’t hold an EMT course to replace attri­tion, and the num­ber of peo­ple on the island is just staggering.”

Doc­u­ments relat­ing to this project can be found at https://sjcphd.org/integration.

“This rep­re­sents a big change for the hos­pi­tal Dis­trict, propos­ing the trans­fer of EMS ser­vice to the Fire Dis­trict, and instead expand­ing into long-term care,” said hos­pi­tal dis­trict Com­mis­sion­er Everett Clary. The hos­pi­tal dis­trict also sub­si­dizes Peace Island Med­ical Cen­ter through Peace­Health, a sep­a­rate enti­ty, to ensure oth­er health­care services.

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