02/28/2017: "Snowmageddon Doesn’t Stop OIFR"
February 28, 2017: A sudden and strong winter snow storm will stop everyone in their tracks . . . everyone except Orcas Island Fire & Rescue. In spite of the rapid accumulation of snow yesterday, staff and volunteers of OIFR responded and found solutions to difficult transport situations, complicated by the weather.
Early Monday afternoon, February 27, 2017, the on duty paramedic was attending to a call of a patient having a critical medical event.
During the course of that call, a second alarm sounded for a car accident with two people in the vehicle, necessitating a second medical unit response. The single vehicle accident, caused by the slippery roads, was minor; however it exacerbated a pre-existing medical condition for one of the occupants.
OIFR found themselves with two patients needing to be transported to off island hospitals for treatment, and no air ambulance service was flying, not even the Navy. Due to the diligent efforts of the on duty team, a plan was developed. The timing of the first call allowed the medical crew to take the patient to the hospital using the next available ferry to the hospital. The second patient and their family were able to be transported using the Marine Response (MRAT) Team. In partnership with Orcas Island Excursions, the boat Blackfish was made available for use and the patient was boated to Bellingham where a local ambulance transported them to the hospital for further evaluation and treatment.
The scenario is just one more example of OIFR’s creative problem solving skills as well as the amazing partnerships that have been developed with other island businesses and agencies. 2016’s patient number 156 and 157 were the recipients of these relationships. The events of Monday afternoon also highlight the “Double Tap Phenomenon” in which OIFR finds that 20% of their calls occur at the same time as another call. This is especially challenging for a small crew and made possible to manage by the diligent and dedicated volunteers.