Still concerned about level of care

Dear Editor,

Statement to the Oroville City Council at their Sept. 15, 2015 meeting:

I’m here today to express my concern about the “level of care” being provided by the new ambulance service.

I attended the last rural ems meeting two weeks ago and it was unanimous, they all agreed that a three-person crew should be the standard in a rural area. I realize the state standard is two, and in the city that may be fine, and legally this is correct, but morally I think not.

What about Chesaw, or Pontiac ridge area? What happens when things with the patient change, and another EMT is required to help in the back? Does the driver stop and assist or do they grab a bystander or call for more help?

Story Time – two EMTs covering our district is not what the citizens are used too. For years, 95 percent of past runs had three people, two of which were EMTs. When this was not the case it may have been due to a second call or second unit needed. Which is my concern, how will Lifeline handle such needs? Call Tonasket and let the person in need wait for at least 20 minutes? My driveway has had four accidents that required fire and EMS to be called. So if I get hit by another vehicle and we both need care, one of us gets to wait for a unit from Tonasket? When I’m 1.3 miles from a second unit that can’t roll.

How is this the same level of care? Now you can’t roll the second unit ever? Zero percent of the time? Have you applied for a “reduction of services” with the state Department of Health? As per Catie Holstein (DOH) this is required.

Let’s consult Dr. Smith, the acting MPD, and see what his thoughts are on a single EMT being in the back of a moving ambulance, trying to perform current high performance level of CPR for any length of time. No way! The city and Lifeline are sending out compromised “first responder” teams.

About this backing you into a corner, No. April 8th you received a memorandum from (Okanogan County Planner) Mr. Houston with three options. That’s not a corner. Mr. Allen was just the final straw, he forced you to show your hand in making a choice. The language difference between the draft dated March 16 and final version of a memorandum dated April 8, from Mr. Huston is interesting: they (the city) believe that Lifeline is ready to make a proposal that should (meet or exceed service that has been provided in the past” has been dropped, I can see why, as Lifeline is staffing only one ambulance with two crew members and cannot staff a second ambulance. Who is paying the 10 percent above their costs? City, county? It seems a little odd that they are being reimbursed for all cost plus 10 percent, and get to increase those costs by driving around town for mocha runs, and general joy rides. The previous crew didn’t do that, they had jobs to get back to.

Also as per Mr. Huston’s email dated July 1st to Chris Branch “there are questions to be asked about a private ambulance service being developed using donated funds.” Was the last ambulance purchase,

not partially paid for by substantial donations? What is the legal status of said donations? Non-profit? Corp?

Since 2007 there has been a serious problem within the ambulance service. Coordinator at the time Christina Rise brought these issues forward at a city council meeting, issues brought out in minutes were: Low number of volunteers, burn out by the few EMTs and personnel issues. Also in the minutes,

(former city) clerk Kathy Jones voiced concerns stating that “the entire community will suffer” if the area is forced to go to a private company for ambulance services.

Do these sound familiar? The problems were never solved. Instead you put a different instigator, I mean coordinator into the mix.

My wife has been with Oroville EMS as an EMT for 22 years. Has she not on several occasions come to you with concerns or issues? Issues you all refused to acknowledge for far too long. I have been trying to get her to quit for over a year, but she refused to do so. Why, because she would not abandon her fellow EMTs and cause what few were left an even greater work load and responsibility.

I find it odd that “within hours” of receiving the last coordinators resignation on Jan. 14th, the city began putting a new plan into action with Lifeline. Then you just strung the EMS crew along, without keeping them informed of what yourself, Joanne and Chris Branch were feverishly working on. I commend you on all your efforts. Too bad this amount of time and effort on your parts did not occur years ago as it could have possibly made a big difference. Remember four EMTS, three EMRS and one driver, two ambulances, around the clock.

Your EMS crew was “drowning.” Chris Allen threw them a “lifeline.” They reached out for it because they saw no other options. The city was increasingly getting hostile towards them.

I find it troubling, that with the length of time that this EMS crisis has been ongoing, that a meeting with the city council, the Rural EMS advisors, the county commissioners and the Oroville ambulance crew

could not be arranged. Never, not ever, not even once. Had this occurred and you had all been in one place, a solution that would benefit all could likely have been found.

In the minutes of a “BOCC” meeting held June 23rd Judy Dunstan stated that the “city should be here,” to which Director Huston replied “he was surprised that no one from the city was in attendance.”

When I attended the last rural EMS meeting, they could not tell me when the last time John or Tony attended one of their meetings. I realize dealing with three different groups is difficult, but there is a

reason… “over sight.” The county commissioner’s have not been doing their job, the Mayor and council were doing things they did not have legal authority (at the time) to do, as per Mr. Huston’s report dated March 16th; and the Rural EMS were spinning yarn. I hope all parties have learned something. I don’t think you have found the right solution yet.

I thought the quote off of an email of Chris Branches; which states “in order to carry a positive action we must develop here a positive vision” was quite appropriate. That vision being level of service

But still… level of service not being the same is my biggest concern. This should be everyone in this room’s main focus “LEVEL OF CARE.” Not who, when, why or even how much. How much is your life or the life of your loved ones worth? Because that is what’s at stake!

But even more important the “level of care this community has had and grown accustom to for nearly 30 years,” that’s what should still be available.

Let’s do what is best for the people of this district, have the ability to roll two units from the same hall. That’s what we are accustom to. Is it possible to have these meetings video taped, it would simplify

future litigation, because a video tape will be more accurate that the “bullet points” of the minutes.

Also in an email from Chris Branch to Perry Huston, he states “I doubt the mayor will want to reply in writing,” what did you mean? Record all your discussions, we the people have a right to know, since it pertains to government business. By that comment it leads a person to believe you are trying to be deceptive.

Mark Bordwell