Water Ambulance in Service

Photo by 911 Dispatcher Chuck McCarty

Meet San Juan County’s newest ambulance.

San Juan County Sheriff’s boat P/V Guardian has been recognized by the State of Washington as a licensed ambulance, following a three year process of fundraising, planning, modification, and training.

“For many years to come, this multipurpose, dual hull twin-engine catamaran will serve and augment the emergency medical transport and water rescue needs of all of San Juan County through its upgraded capability,” said EMS Chief Jim Cole. “The P/V Guardian now gives us the ability to transport San Juan County residents from their home island with a certified ambulance when airborne transport is impractical.”

The boat is equipped with the necessary life support and rescue equipment that is found on a traditional ambulance, and has the capability to carry two critical patients at once. Capabilities include cardiac monitoring, airway support, emergency communications, and trauma care, splinting and obstetrics equipment. San Juan Island EMS personnel have attained Water Rescue Technician certification and have specific training to safely operate and utilize this water ambulance.

Sheriff Bill Cumming stated, “I am glad to provide this upgraded resource to the residents and visitors of all our islands. The P/V Guardian will be especially effective in providing EMS transport to outer islands and in inclement weather from all islands, while continuing to meet the varied water-based needs of EMS, Fire, and Law Enforcement throughout our county.”

Funding for modifying and equipping the P/V Guardian to be a certified ambulance was supplemented by several grants and by community donations. The P/V Guardian was originally purchased using funds seized in drug arrests and funds provided by the Department of Homeland Security. The boat is piloted by Coast Guard licensed Captains.

San Juan Island EMS is the tax supported, county EMS agency serving the residents and visitors of San Juan Island, Town of Friday Harbor, Brown Island, Stuart Island, Johns Island, Speiden Island, Pearl Island and Henry Island in San Juan County, Washington. It provides emergency medical services, critical care transport, and injury and accident prevention programs. The staff of career paramedics and volunteer EMTs is available twenty-four hours a day.