Beyond the Rig

For the past four decades, the role of EMS on Whidbey Island has been much greater than just an ambulance service,” says Medical Program Director Dr. Paul Zaveruha.“Although that remains the core of our mission, we continue to be involved in community outreach in our commitment to health issues.”

Beyond the Rig: EMS – A Crucial Link in the Chain of Care

With the WhidbeyHealth Emergency Medical Services team averaging about 9,000 ambulance runs up and down the island per year, EMS certainly doesn’t see a lot of down time.

But your EMS team, made up of emergency medical technicians, paramedics and support staff, do a lot more in our community than performing all important life-saving measures and transporting folks to the hospital.

WhidbeyHealth EMS is driven by data. It partners with Island County Health, local fire departments, law enforcement and citizen focus groups to define where precious resources should go. Whidbey Island Prevent is the organization that EMS helped to create to do this crucial work.

Driving for Quality Care

For the past four decades, the role of EMS on Whidbey Island has been much greater than just an ambulance service,” says Medical Program Director Dr. Paul Zaveruha.

“Although that remains the core of our mission, we continue to be involved in community outreach in our commitment to health issues.”

An example of that commitment is reflected in our response to cardiac events. EMS now takes patients, who demonstrate heart attack criteria, directly to cardiac specialty hospitals, such as Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett and Skagit Valley Hospital. Taking patients directly to a cardiologist shortens the time to the catheterization lab, which can mean avoiding permanent heart damage.

Skagit Cardiologist Dr. Sanjeev Vaderah had high praise for the results.

“Each case that was brought to us was appropriate. The WhidbeyHealth paramedics do a great job,” he said.

WhidbeyHealth EMS hopes to one day implement the National Community Paramedic program, a program that uses paramedics and EMTs to bridge the care from hospital to home. And EMS continues to be involved in national healthcare issues, including potential gun violence, natural and manmade disasters and chronic disease management.

EMS has also been involved in Narcan Night with the Island County Sheriff’s Department, in helping to eliminate the opioid epidemic.

Steady Standbys

You’ve probably seen them at the fairs, fireworks, parades, festivals, marathons or any of the dozens of events on Whidbey Island. Our EMS team performs what are called “Emergency Medical Services Standbys” at events all over the island. Many of these events have a high risk of injury to participants; other events require paramedic-level services by their insurers.

WhidbeyHealth EMS team members are educated by the Emergency Management Institute at the National Fire Academy on best practices to cover events in order to be prepared for anything that may arise.

WhidbeyHealth EMS, along with other emergency services agencies of Whidbey Island, are responsible for ensuring the safety of those who participate at events.

“Some of this participation is high-stakes and highly-athletic like national horse jumping, hydroplane races and intense terrain mountain-biking races,” May says.

“We have to be ready for anything, at any time, on any terrain.”

“We do dozens and dozens of “standbys” in an effort to not just respond more quickly to a medical or traumatic incident at events, but also to coordinate with other emergency services agencies to ensure that attendees have the very best and safest experience possible.” ~ Lead Paramedic Robert May

Hands-Only CPR/AED Training

WhidbeyHealth EMS is happy to be able to offer free cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillator (AED) training to all ninth-graders spurred on by a state mandate that requires CPR be mandatory for high school graduation. EMS also offers the same training to community groups or neighborhoods in these skills, while helping them to institute AED programs.

Every year the employees of WhidbeyHealth EMS donate one AED and cabinet to an organization that shows significant need but doesn’t have the funding to purchase an AED. The cost is approximately $1,200 annually. Here are the public AEDs currently accessible to islanders, with others soon to be added at more locations in Langley and Oak Harbor. The Coupeville locations were donated by the Coupeville Arts and Crafts Festival Association:

  • Community Park, Langley
  • South Whidbey Sports Complex, Langley
  • WiFire Parking Lot on Main St., Freeland
  • Front Street at the Knead and Feed Restaurant, Coupeville
  • Port of Coupeville’s Collections Building, Coupeville
  • Red Apple Market, Coupeville
  • North Whidbey Football and Cheer, Oak Harbor
  • Whidbey Homeless Coalition at The Haven, Oak Harbor
  • Sierra Clubhouse, West Beach

 

Children Car Seat Safety

It’s safe to say that we’ve had an impressive number of nationally certified car seat safety specialists on Whidbey.

WhidbeyHealth is proud to co-sponsor quarterly car seat safety checks at the Oak Harbor Fire Department and help to write grants to acquire infant/child car seats for those who cannot afford them. See more info about car seat safety checks here: https://whidbeyhealth.org/stay-healthy/classes-and-programs/car-seat-safety-checks/car-seat-safety-checks

 

  • Pictured Above: Lead Paramedic Robert May presents a participant with an AED for the North Whidbey Football and Cheer Club, while CEO Geri Forbes, left, observes.