EMS Services – Report of August 15, 2017

Guest post by Albert Berger, LIHD Commissioner

Report of August 15, 2017 Meeting of Lopez Fire District (San Juan Fire District #4) Board of Commissioners

I attended the August 15th meeting of the Lopez Fire District Board of Commissioners and came away encouraged that there is progress between the Fire District and UW Medicine regarding Emergency Medical Services (EMS) once the Lopez Clinic is operated by UW Medicine.

Becky Smith, who is Chair of the Lopez Fire District Board of Commissioners, said that a meeting is scheduled for August 28th, between herself, Chief Ghiglione, Dr. Bob Wilson and the leadership of UW Medicine including Deborah Gussin who is the Executive Director of UW Medicine and Jay Priebe who is the Director of Rural Primary Care Operations. Becky Smith said she was pleased and encouraged that a meeting has been set up to move forward on EMS services here on Lopez and the roles of the Fire Department and the Lopez Clinic in supporting these services. She also said that the UW Medicine appears to be willing to adjust the scope of practice for the Clinic to provide some support for EMS services.

Additionally there was some discussion regarding current airlift practices here on Lopez. Currently airlift is occurring using both the helicopter pad next to the Clinic and also the Lopez Airport. There is concern about safety of the helicopter pad in town. In the future it may be prudent to have airlift operations, whether that is using helicopter or fixed wing aircraft, use the airport. This may mean that airlift patients awaiting transport to the mainland will be supported within the Lopez Fire Department ambulances and/or a room that is appropriate for EMS patients at the airport may need to be developed. It is of interest that on Orcas Island. according to the Orcas Fire Department, that the medical facilities on Orcas are not used to hold patients awaiting transport, but the Orcas Fire District typically supports patients awaiting air transport using their facilities or ambulances.