Islands' Sounder


Vote yes for the levy | Letters

April 10, 2014 · Updated 4:21 PM

We live in a remote part of Washington state, in a community of islands with limited transportation options and no critical/urgent/hospital care available on Orcas Island.  What we do have is an amazing group of locally trained volunteers and professional fire fighters and paramedics.  Living in a remote, rural area is not always easy and at times comes with unique issues with day to day life, like medical care and transportation.

I have had the privilege of witnessing our amazing fire department in action at the Exchange Fire and the Olga Artworks and feel lucky that we have so much talent in all our first responders.  Both operations ran perfectly under stressful conditions and under the leadership of Chief Kevin O’Brien.

It is important for Orcas Island to maintain the level of EMS and Fire services that we have for an assortment of reasons. The most important I believe is the security of knowing that we have people well trained and equipped, ready to save our lives and put out our fires 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It is critical to have effective emergency services on our island because we simply don’t have the luxury of relying on our neighbors for immediate assistance. I find this especially important when evaluating the possibility of wild land fires, natural disasters, or other large-scale incidents.

I have watched the discussion of the fire levy closely and do not understand all the negative comments around this issue.  It is our responsibility to question and challenge our leadership and make them better and stronger leaders for our community, but at what point do the personal attacks become just wrong?  If we are not careful, seasoned professionals may not want to work in our community because of how we treat those in service.

I hope we all understand that this is a fair levy rate and holds the line on spending.  A no vote on the levy will have an impact on services available for Orcas Island.

Please join me in support for long-term, sustainable EMS/Fire funding by voting yes. Thank you for your consideration.

Rick Hughes

Orcas Island




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