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Consider the consequences of failing ambulances

A message for voters in Fire District 5. As you vote please remember —

In 2005, Grays Harbor Fire District 5 purchased the emergency medical services (EMS) for East Grays Harbor from the then-Mark Reed Hospital (Grays Harbor Hospital District #1). When they purchased the service, they also bought the ambulances that were being used at that time but quickly knew that they needed to replace some of them. The district, knowing that new ambulances cost around $180,000 for each one, was not going to be able to happen at that moment, so they started looking for other options. Well, they found a couple ambulances that could, for lack of a better term, “be used as a Band-Aid” and purchased two used ones from Shoreline Fire Department and was able to put them as first out units until, hopefully, new replacements could be brought on.

The leadership from the Board of Commissioners down has tried every option to get the most used vehicles in the Fire District’s fleet replaced. They have been trying to get grants or donations but that just isn’t happening. So, now, they have no other option at this time but to ask the voters for some support and help by passing a bond measure to purchase two replacements for ambulances that are well past their life expectancy, with some at 270,000 miles and almost 12 years old. The average life of a first-out ambulance in a service that runs almost 1,800 calls a year is around five years and around 100,000 miles. As you can see, these are double plus that.

If passed, the bond would be for $360,000 and cost each tax payer about 13 cents per $1,000 of assessed value on their property or less for five years and then goes away. That means that a person who owns a $100,000 home would pay an additional $13 or less on their 2014 taxes and help make sure the local firefighters, EMT’s and paramedics have reliable ambulances to get to your location and take you or your loved ones to the hospital. Currently, Fire District 5 has ambulances in service and three of them need to be replaced but the commissioners, after a lot of thought and discussion, felt that asking for three was just too much and we could make a big difference if we were able to replace two of them right now. It is important for everyone to know that these funds can only be used for the ambulances or equipment in them, nothing else.

If it doesn’t pass, I think that, at some point, the responders will be either going to a serious call or transporting a critical patient and their ambulance will break down and a bad outcome might happen. We have had it happen a few times but, luckily, it was returning or they were close enough to the hospital to just get there. That is not meant to scare anyone but it is reality. I also ask that when you go to vote that you remember that as we heard in previous levy discussions, a lot of people depend on the responders and equipment of the EMS system in East Grays Harbor from citizens to visitors to other agencies.

None of us want to pay more in any area especially in these times but something’s just have to be done and I would ask for you to ask yourself is emergency medical response one of those important things? With all this in mind, I urge all voters within all communities that make up Grays Harbor Fire District 5 to please think about this when they vote on the Nov. 5 bond issue. Thank you.

Dan Prater

Fire Chief

Grays Harbor Fire District #5