Press Release: Friday Harbor, WA (January 22, 2014) San Juan Island EMS is a service of the San Juan County Public Hospital District No. 1 and provides Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and medical transportation to the residents and visitors of San Juan Island, the Town of Friday Harbor, and the islands of Brown, Pearl, Henry, Speiden, John and Stuart.
SJIEMS offers advanced life support services and employs career paramedics and volunteer EMTs in a nationally recognized and CAMTS critical care accredited agency. SJIEMS is looking to pass a permanent levy beginning in 2015 for the ongoing uninterrupted operations of EMS into the future.
The past two years, EMS has seen almost a $500,000 loss of tax revenue due to declining property values. Only one third of the operating budget comes from property taxes.
San Juan Island EMS has served the citizens and visitors of the district since 1977 in a model of excellence in rural advanced life support care and transportation. EMS is looking to pass a permanent levy of up to 50 cents per thousand of valuation. The combination of career paramedics and volunteer EMTs provides a fiscally responsible yet robust level of service that our islands need. EMS also works hard to prevent accidents and illnesses by focusing on community education and outreach with a well-recognized public First Aid and CPR program with over 70 AEDs placed throughout the district.
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 that existing levy beginning in 2015 and allow funding for the continued operation of the ambulance, equipment and personnel responsible for all emergency medical services within the San Juan County Public Hospital District #1.
What is San Juan County Public Hospital District #1?
It is a taxing district that includes the Town of Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, Henry Island, Spieden Island, Stuart Island, Johns Island, Brown Island and Pearl Island. The boundary of the Hospital District and San Juan Island EMS districts are one and the same. The Hospital District collects two separate levies, one that supports San Juan Island EMS and the other that supports underfunded primary healthcare. The five-member board of the SJCPHD#1 oversees the running of both.
How much will the levy cost?
The 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 has historically only levied 35 cents per thousand.
Does the EMS system charge for calls? District residents do not pay for out of pocket expenses for EMS response, patient care and transport. However, your insurance company will be billed with no out of pocket billing for District residents.
What does the levy provide?
• 24/7 Advanced Life Support rescue, response, emergency care and transport
. • 5 Paramedics and 35 professionally trained Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) responding 24/7 with state of the art equipment and 3 mobile intensive care ambulances.
• Your 35 EMT neighbors are equipped with AED’s, oxygen and first responder kits to immediately stabilize an emergent issue.
• On-going medical training for your emergency responders.
• Evidence based, best patient care practices.
• Outer island resident training and emergency equipment loan.
• Marine response to outer islands and waterways.
• Community Education/Prevention Programs.
• CPR, AED and First Aid training for all community members.
• Wilderness Medicine courses for professionals and the public.
• Senior Fall Prevention Program and Blood Pressure Screening Clinics.
• "Kid’s Don’t Float" lifejacket lending program at the Port and Roche Harbor.
• Bike and skate safety/helmets available at no cost to those in need.
• Infant/Child Car seat available at no cost to those in need.
• High School "Every 15 Minutes" anti-drinking and driving program.
• Child Poison Prevention programs.
• Other community outreach and prevention programs and events.
Why a permanent levy now?
Without big foreseeable changes, a permanent levy, which most EMS Districts utilize, would allow for consistent funding without putting the EMS system in jeopardy every six years.
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.