Hilary Canty leaves fire department | Letter

It is with a heavy heart that I announce my resignation from Orcas Fire and Rescue, through which I have had the pleasure to serve this community as a volunteer EMT for the past 22 years. I had hoped to have a couple of new recruits in place before retiring, but under the current paid administrative leadership at the department, this is no longer a viable option.

To the hundreds of people who I have helped on hundreds of calls: thank you. Helping you was life affirming for me. Remember to breath deep and slow if you ever need to call 911 again. It always helps to calm you and the situation down.

To the many volunteers and medics with whom I have had the pleasure to have responded with: you are an inspiring and amazing team….especially my Eastside crew! I will miss our time together and hope you all stay safe.

To the paid administration and the elected commissioners of the department: your actions and abilities are jeopardizing the department. It has taken years of poor decision making and terrible hiring decisions to diminish the department to this point. You appear intent on continuing on this path as witnessed by the recent hiring of the assistant chief, who by many accounts was the weaker candidate.

When volunteers and staff serve in fear of retaliation and intimidation, when they no longer trust the paid administrative and elected leadership, the culture is broken and it has the potential to impact response. The price to serve as a volunteer EMT or Firefighter should never include tolerating spiteful management and vindictive behavior and yet that is where OIFR is today.

To the Community: the work of OIFR is critical to the health and well being of all who are fortunate to call Orcas home and to the hundreds of thousands who visit each year. In order to sustain this effort, we need to pay attention to the BOFC meetings and their actions, we need to support and elect good candidates to the Board of Fire Commissioners, and we need folks to step up as volunteers.

I have truly loved my service and will miss (most of) it a great deal. I look forward to finding another avenue to continue to support this community that I love.

Stay well.

Hilary Canty

Orcas Island