My turn to weigh in


Dear Gary,

As the spouse of a “former” Oroville EMT I can remain silent no longer. This letter is against my wife’s wishes. When the pager goes off, everyone in the house is effected. Whether it’s in the middle of fixing dinner or in the middle of the night, how you “volunteers” spring into action is amazing! Gail, Rita and Brian I thank you for your letters of support, it brought a smile to her face. If you say nothing, you’ve said something.

Not too many “volunteers” do it for the money. They do it for a more selfish reason, it makes them feel good. In Lisa’s case, she was born in Dr. Holmes office, on Central Ave. downtown Oroville. She was literally “born and raised” here. She does it for you, family, friends and neighbors. And yea, she get’s paid for her time. It depends on who you ask if the pay is adequate. The hours that are required to maintain a state level, EMT first responder card and the hours that they accumulate on runs, divided by the check they receive from the city, will be below state minimum wage, and for sure be below what you would pay someone to serve you coffee in Seattle.

But that really has never been the issue! The crew that was left at the “end” had never brought it up as a problem. When it became obvious they needed help, it was difficult to find “volunteers’’ under the current framework. Hence, start making a plan because they were getting nowhere with the Mayor, and other appointed officials. Lisa had met with these guy’s more than a few times in the past 18 months and was getting no solutions, she was getting nowhere. What they didn’t know, was that the Mayor was working on a plan. A plan that has been tried in other local EMS districts, and failed.

Now let’s discuss some facts, and please if I am incorrect, please correct me. The Oroville EMS District is owned by two-thirds Okanogan County and one-third city of Oroville?

The city collects 100 percent of the revenue? What is the amount of this “dispatch” fee? Does the police and fire dept. pay this same fee? Why has not the city tried for the same “program” other districts have in place with the county, which is no fee! Do you have money to burn? Speaking of money to burn, why do you always have to buy brand new ambulances? Anyone that has ever bought a brand new car knows that as soon as you drive 10 feet, you just lost thousands of dollars. Why not buy one that is one or two years old and save that money for what you need in the back of that vehicle?

Can someone compare Oroville’s last three ambulance’s, status what year purchased, new or used, price paid, mileage to date, to Tonasket’s last three units? I believe Tonasket’s may be older, but what they have in the back is better from a caregiver’s point of view, right down to their stethoscopes. Anyone that has basic first-aid training knows that in the beginning , seconds matter, current state standards for CPR, require two people, how then can the current ambulance crew respond and make a call with one? Not to mention that if they respond to call with multiple casualties. Oroville can only send one unit now. Does this mean the city is sending inadequate medical teams to the scene, and will they have to ask witnesses at the scene if they can assist them to the hospital because they need the additional personnel to perform life-saving technics?

As for the Mayor’s behavior at a city council meeting, your referencing the wrong meeting. It should be in the minutes of one earlier this spring, Lisa asked a question to the Mayor, his response was unbecoming of his position shall we say, enough so, that at the next meeting he publicly apologized for his behavior previously towards her.

Having said all this, we are still faced with the same problem, can the people of this district afford to gamble their life on this inferior plan? Or as typical politicians do, just change it later and force the costs that they know are coming, onto the people. What choice do you have?

Well that’s what’s happening now, you, the people of this district have a choice on your level of care “you” might receive in an emergency. Don’t think for a minute the decision for the E.M.T.s to offer their resignations to the mayor was an easy one. But when they did, there were at least three options before the mayor. Don’t forget this had been going on for over a year. Your crew was down to four EMTs, three first responder’s and a couple of drivers. To cover this end of the county, 24\7, 365, even if it’s Christmas day! Two of these EMTs are in the back on every run, this provides higher quality patient care especially when doing CPR, which when performed at new high performance level requires two people.

In the past, when local “volunteers” wanted to stay in the hall, so they could respond to calls, the city would not allow. To clarify, when you are on call, you must be within five minutes of the hall, so if you live outside of that you can not be “on call”. The current crew is living there. What has changed? Does zoning allow this? You wouldn’t do this for your own people, which would have helped. To address Kathy’s question, yes, the coordinator position along with multiple runs, can be a “full time” position for someone, do you want it? Has been in the past, and that’s a fact. And technically they were fired. And by the way after 23 years, with this mayor, Lisa is notified by the police, 11:30 p.m., at work, that until 8:00 in the a.m., she is still required to answer calls, and then she’s fired. Not even a thank you for the past 23 years.

I think the mayor’s dislike for Mr. Alan is clouding his better judgement as to what is best for “all the people” represented by who they have collected revenue from. Why are we not holding pubic meeting’s for such an important thing that effects so many people.

Typical government way, you know you have a problem, talk about it forever, do nothing, when the people involved do something, disagree with them and force your way on them. One thing is for sure, anyone can be a politician, it takes a special person to be an EMT. We can’t go back, so where do YOU go?

Mark Bordwell