With the upcoming election, many members of the public have asked questions about various aspects of operations at San Juan Island EMS, including questions regarding paramedic roles in emergency response. As a public agency and a subsidiary of San Juan County Public Hospital District #1, we encourage curiosity from the community in the day-to-day operations of San Juan Island EMS and guarantee transparency through available facts and statistics. San Juan Island EMS currently employs four full-time paramedics and will be hiring a fifth full-time paramedic in the summer of 2022. In addition to our full-time paramedics, San Juan Island EMS is currently seeking a paramedic to fill the role of Operations Chief and Training Officer, the hired individual will be able to respond to 911 calls and provide operational and managerial support for the agency.
Paramedics are the only emergency response providers that can offer advanced life support (ALS) services to the public. ALS services extend beyond Basic Life Support (BLS) to include providing pain medications, giving injections and intravenous fluids, performing minor operations, conducting airway procedures, and providing emergency treatment for medical conditions such as cardiac arrest, stroke, and myocardial infarctions. ALS services are essential to the excellent patient care that San Juan Island EMS provides the community.
In 2021, paramedics at San Juan Island EMS had excellent response times. The average paramedic chute time was 2:28, the average travel time was 7:29, and the average total response time was 9:44. Paramedics responded to 789 calls in 2021, which represents 73% of all calls for the year. While there was at least one paramedic at 73% of calls, over fifty calls had more than one paramedic respond.
Currently, paramedics at San Juan Island EMS operate out of their home. While they do not work in the station at this time, annual statistics show that this has not sacrificed quality patient care and emergency response times are not hindered by a work-from-home model. Nonetheless, San Juan Island EMS will be transitioning paramedics to station-based shifts starting in the fall of 2022.
San Juan Island is considered a rural area, which makes the necessity for paramedics and ALS services much more crucial to patient care. Many patients need to be transported by air, ferry, or marine boat to reach large hospitals for care, which may significantly lengthen the amount of time emergency response providers spend with patients from San Juan Island in comparison to the mainland.
San Juan County Public Hospital District No. 1 currently operates San Juan Island EMS and pays a large subsidy to support PeaceHealth Peace Island Medical Center. The District’s EMS levy expires at the end of 2022. Renewal of the EMS levy for another six years is on the February 8, 2022, ballot under San Juan County Public Hospital District #1.