Living on Orcas is a choice, a choice that I am so very glad to have been able to make. This is a special place, unlike any other. For all of the wonder and enchantment our little island has to offer, we must make sacrifices to stay here. Access to advanced emergency medical services is not one of those sacrifices, nor should it ever be.
August of last year should have been a joyous month for our family. We should have been celebrating new life and trying to get into the swing of this parenting thing. Instead, I got to watch as my husband was expertly assessed, loaded into the ambulance and taken to the airport to be handed off to the Airlift Northwest team. He was having a heart attack, a major one, at the ripe age of thirty-something. Chief O’Brien stayed with me, drove me home to get the baby settled and handed off to Grandma, drove me back to Eastsound where a Mercy Flight pilot (also a firefighter) met me and took me to Bellingham. The paramedic who saw my husband that day visited us in the hospital later that week.
In December, after being sent home by a mainland pediatrician, I drove straight to OIFR’s Eastsound station as it was after-hours. My little boy was having trouble breathing and I knew the best place to go was to the Fire Station. Again, I was met by the Chief, Assistant Chief and another Paramedic. Airlift was once again called but thankfully cancelled. Our highly educated and advanced paramedics were able to find a breathing treatment that worked for him (the doctor we saw earlier in the day couldn’t even do that). We stayed for a while until my son was settled enough to nap and then headed home. The paramedic on duty took down directions to our house just in case and even called later in the evening to check on him.
This type of treatment would never happen on the mainland. The OIFR team is there for us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and treats everyone like family. The volunteers are amazing and are among the best educated I’ve met. Our cardiac success stories speak volumes for our Paramedics who are at the top of their class. You never know when you will need them and I can assure you, when you really need them, you want them to be the best.
Please join me in support of the Fire Levy. OIFR saves lives … one day it might be your life.