by KEVIN O’BRIEN
ORCAS FIRE CHIEF
Rick began his outstanding service as a volunteer firefighter on Orcas in 1999. He was a very active in all aspects of district operations including EMS, structural and wildland firefighting. As a firefighter, he participated on an assortment of off-island deployments and fought many large scale fires. In 2008, Rick became the district financial officer, where he brought his excellent experience and professionalism to the administrative leadership of the district.
Rick was very active in the community. He was named “Patriot of the Year” in the Doe Bay Community in 2008. He also served as treasurer and president of the Orcas Lions Club.
Rick was a respected leader with Orcas Island Fire and Rescue, always ready to answer the alarm and a mentor to many. Rick will be dearly missed.
On Jan. 4, responders assisted an adult female with injuries following a vehicle accident on Orcas Road near Judd Cove. The patient was treated and transported in stable condition to St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Bellingham.
On Jan. 5, responders were dispatched to a home in the Doe Bay neighborhood to assist an adult male who sustained multiple traumatic injuries following a vehicle accident. The man was given comprehensive EMS treatment and transported to Harborview Medical Center, Seattle in serious condition by Airlift Northwest.
On Jan. 14, at approximately 12:30 a.m., OIFR personnel and San Juan County Sheriff’s Deputies were dispatched to a home on Pea Pod Lane in the Sea Acres neighborhood to help with the search for a man who was reported missing since 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 13. The early morning search included 22 OIFR personnel and six apparatus, a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter, the Sheriff’s vessel, and a ground search by emergency personnel. Two dog-tracking teams arrived on the island to assist in the operations as well. At 9:00 a.m. on Jan. 14, the San Juan County Sheriff’s department was notified that the man was accounted for and in stable medical condition.
On Jan. 28, OIFR responded to an Eastsound location for a possible suicide attempt. The patient was initially unresponsive with lacerations to both arms. After emergency care was provided at the scene, attempts to transport off island were made without success. Airlift NW, Island Air, Coast Guard, and the sheriff boat were all unable to respond due to inclement weather. Eventually, a private boat owned by an OIFR firefighter with a paramedic and two EMTs on board was able to transport patient to Peace Island Medical Center in Friday Harbor. The EMS call lasted approximately seven hours.
On Feb. 10 at 7 p.m., OIFR personnel were dispatched to the Deer Harbor Marina for the report of a structure fire. Arriving responders found the marina building closest to the main road heavily involved in fire. Two 120 gallon propane tanks stored near the building were emitting large “torch like” flames which challenged firefighting efforts. Forty responders from OIFR and San Juan Island worked until 1:30 a.m. to control the blaze. Damage was limited and a good portion of the building was saved. The cause of the fire was determined to be accidental caused by an electrical problem in the mechanical room.
On Feb. 28 at 7:29 p.m., OIFR personnel were dispatched by Sheriff to the Bartel Road neighborhood after receiving a report of a missing man. The man was found lying in a ditch full of water along Terrill Beach Road at approximately 8:30 p.m. He was treated for hypothermia and airlifted off to St. Joseph’s Hospital, Bellingham in serious condition via Airlift Northwest.
Leading up to the levy lid lift election on April 22, and an ongoing recruitment drive for firefighters, OIFR is hosting a series of events. At each event we will offer a “Five Minute Hands Only CPR Class.” The remaining dates are as follows. Brown Bag Lunch: Thursday, March 27, noon to 1:30 p.m., Station 26. Open House: Saturday, March 29, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Deer Harbor Station 24. Town Hall Meeting: Tuesday, April 1, 5 to 6:30 p.m., Eastsound Station. Open House: Saturday, April 12, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Doe Bay Fire Hall. Town Hall Meeting: Wednesday, April 16, 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Station 21.