UPDATED: 2014 EMS Permanent Levy Information Sheet

San Juan Island EMS (SJIEMS) is a service of the San Juan County Public Hospital District No. 1, and provides Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and medical transportation for residents of, and visitors to, San Juan Island, the Town of Friday Harbor, and residents of Brown, Pearl, Henry, Speiden, John and Stuart islands.

SJIEMS offers advanced life support services and employs career paramedics and volunteer EMTs.  Since 1977, SJIEMS has served the citizens and visitors of the district in a nationally recognized model of excellence in rural advanced life support care and transportation.  EMS also works hard to prevent accidents and illnesses by focusing on community education and outreach through popular First Aid and CPR programs.  SJIEMS also has placed over 70 defibrillators (AEDs) throughout the district.  Using career paramedics and volunteer EMTs provides a fiscally responsible yet robust level of services that our islands need.

What is an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) levy?

The current EMS levy expires December 31, 2016. This permanent levy will replace the last two years of the existing levy beginning in 2015 and allow San Juan Island EMS to fund ambulances, equipment and personnel for all emergency medical services on San Juan Island, the Town of Friday Harbor, and the outlying islands that are within the San Juan County Public Hospital District #1 (SJCPHD #1).


What is San Juan County Public Hospital District #1?

It is a taxing district that comprises the Town of Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, Henry Island, Speiden Island, Stuart Island, Johns Island, Brown Island and Pearl Island. The Hospital District and San Juan Island EMS district boundaries are identical.  The Hospital District collects a separate levy that supports Peace Island Medical Center. The five-member SJCPHD #1 board also oversees San Juan Island EMS district levy.


How much will the levy cost?

Washington State law allows for up to 50 cents per thousand of assessed property valuation.  The District would be allowed to levy up to this amount but historically has levied only 35 cents per thousand. About a third of the SJIEMS operating budget comes from property taxes.  Declining property values over the past two years have resulted in a loss of almost $500,000 in tax revenue.  Each year, EMS has taken only the minimum tax required to operate the district–not the full tax as allowed by law.  In the first year of the current six year levy tax revenue was $1,193,672.80.  Based upon 2013 assessed values in the district, the maximum levy amount could be $1,378,911.02. This would be a difference of $185,238.22.  It would only bring in  slightly more than the original 35 cent levy passed several years ago, but because of declining values, EMS now only gets just short of $1,000,000 and the taxpayers have paid less to EMS for the last two years!

Does SJIEMS charge for calls?

Residents no longer pay any out of pocket expenses for EMS response, complete patient care or transport.   The patient’s insurance company will be billed if applicable, but nothing out of pocket will be required.


What does the levy buy?

  • Residents receive 24/7 Advanced Life Support response, rescue, emergency care, and patient transport.
  • Five paramedics and 35 professionally trained Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) use state-of-the-art medical equipment and 3 intensive care ambulances.
  • Our 35 EMT neighbors have automatic defibrillators, oxygen and first responder kits to immediately stabilize patients.   Paramedics and EMTs receive recurrent training and use evidence based, best patient care practices.
  • Outer island residents receive training, and loan of emergency equipment.   Also the EMS levy provides for marine response to outer islands and waterways.
  • Levy monies pay for SJIEMS Community Education/Prevention Programs, including CPR, AED and First Aid training, Senior Fall Prevention Program,  Child Poison Prevention programs, Wilderness Medicine courses, and blood pressure screening clinics for reduced or no cost.
  • Other benefits to District residents include a FREE “Kid’s Don’t Float” lifejacket lending program at the Port and Roche Harbor; FREE Bike and skate safety/helmets; and FREE Infant/Child Car seats.   EMS staff present at the High School the “Every 15 Minutes” anti-drinking and driving program.   And SJIEMS offers other community outreach and prevention programs and events.


How long would the levy continue?

This levy would beginning in 2015, replacing the last two years of the existing 6 year levy, and be ongoing.


Why a permanent levy now? 

A permanent levy would allow for consistent funding without putting our EMS system funding in jeopardy every six years.  Most EMS districts receive funding through a permanent levy.


What happens if the levy does not pass?

The EMS system will continue to function on its existing six year levy until another levy is passed or is depleted in 2016.


Updated 1/22/2014