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									 Orcas Island Fire Department
2008 Report to the
Our Mission Statement
It is the mission of the Orcas Island Fire Department to provide the highest level of
protection to life, property and safety of the community through the extension of Fire
Prevention, Fire Suppression, Medical Rescue and Public Education Services, consistent
with the prudent utilization of public funds.

Letter from Commissioner Clyde Duke
                                  For many, emergency services come to mind only when
                                  they are needed. Providing those services quickly,
                                  efficiently and to the highest professional level, however,
                                  takes a tremendous amount of skill, dedication, energy
                                  and, yes, money. Our dedicated volunteers, fire-medics
                                  and staff provide that service at a level that very few rural
                                  fire departments ever achieve.
                                    We have long felt the need to report to the public, on a
                                  regular basis, exactly what we are doing and how we are
                                  planning for the future. Public interest in the department
                                  has recently increased. Thus, now is the time to make this
first of what is planned to be an annual report.
  We encourage you visit our website, www.orcasfire.org, to learn more about your
department. We also encourage you to learn about and take advantage of the many safety
related services we offer to you at no or nominal cost.

Letter from Chief Mike Harris
                                    Over the past ten years, the number of our emergency
                                    calls has risen from 385 per year to 617 per year with
                                    over 80% being medical in nature. While the majority of
                                    our calls are predictable in nature, we spend a
                                    considerable amount of time, energy and resources so that
                                    we can be prepared for the unpredictable. Our other great
                                    challenge is anticipating and being prepared for the
                                      To these ends, in 2005, the Board of Fire
                                    commissioners adopted three Long Range Strategic Plans.
                                    These plans were developed by citizen groups over a
                                    period of eight months in 2004 and 2005. The three
                                    plans, The Communications Plan, The Fire Services Plan,
and the Emergency Medical Services Plan look forward many years and will help guide us
in our preparations—both now and in the future. We have made considerable progress in
this process yet we have much more to do. We have, on occasion, had to step back and re-
examine our priorities but, all in all, I am excited at the progress that has been made.
  With this report we hope to show you a little of who we are, what we are doing, and how
we are planning for the future.
Ready to Respond 24/7
Admin Staff cross-trained and available All members of the administrative staff are
now emergency responders. One or all may respond depending upon the event. Every staff member can
provide emergency care to anyone appearing on the station’s doorstep.

Volunteer Duty Shift Program The “Duty Shift” program now provides a night-time
partner for the on-duty Fire/Medic. Although not required, our dedicated members have averaged almost
5000 volunteer hours each year which equals more than one extra responder per night.

                        Patrick Shepler, Lt. Paramedic 22
                        Patrick began his Fire and EMS career as a volunteer firefighter for South Pasadena,
                        Florida in 1978. He worked as a firefighter/paramedic for the city of Clearwater for 23
                        years, with the last seven years as a Rescue Lieutenant. His last post was with St.
                        Petersburg College and Pinellas County EMS as their EMS Curriculum Development
                        and Marketing Director. Patrick has published articles in Fire Command, JEMS and
                        other EMS publications. In addition to his duties as Medic 22, Patrick is co-founder of
                        Dalmatian Rescue of Tampa Bay and is currently pursuing his Masters Degree in
                        Occupational Health and Safety.

                        Val Harris, Lt. Paramedic 23
                        Val started as an EMT for Skagit County in 1984 and certified as a Paramedic, 3 years
                        later. She moved to Orcas Island in 1987 and was a medic for the fire department for 6
                        years before returning to Skagit County. She has also worked in Hospitals, Doctor’s
                        Offices, as a Flight Medic, and even as a Dental Assistant. She has been active in EMS
                        Training Programs and Systems development as well as serving as a Captain with the
                        Marblemount Volunteer Fire Department. She was rehired as a Firefighter / Paramedic
                        with Orcas Fire in 2005 and is now joined by her daughter, a volunteer

                         Mik Preyzs, Lt. Paramedic 24
                         In 1977, at the age of 21, Mik started out as a police officer in Bountiful Utah.
                         By 1980, Mik became an EMT, Joined the South Davis Volunteer Fire
                         Department and traded his police badge for a sheriff’s star with the Davis
                         County Sheriff’s Department. Mik continued his EMS training by going to
                         Weber State University’s Paramedic Program and graduated in May of 1981.
                         In 1990, with multiple disciplines and experiences behind him, Mik and his
                         family moved to the Northwest working as Chief Flight Medic at St. Joseph
                         Hospital in Bellingham, Skagit Medic One and a paramedic at Orcas Island
                         Fire Department.
Higher Level of Training Offered
                                                Washington State law requires the same
                                                training for volunteers as it does for paid
                                                Firefighters and Emergency Medical
                                                Technicians. Required classroom lectures
                                                have been replaced with state of the art on-line
                                                training accessible by members at their
                                                convenience. This permits most training at the
                                                station to be hands-on and allows time for
                                                more flexible schedules. Our volunteers’
                                                access to off-island training programs has also
                                                been doubled. Specialized training is optional
                                                but very popular with our members.

Training available to our members
includes: rope rescue, vehicle extrication,
wildland firefighting, wilderness
emergency medical technician training,
pre-hospital trauma life support, University
of Miami brain attack/stroke training,
geriatric education for emergency medical
services, and other advanced medical

                                               While the majority of our members are already
                                               cross-trained, we see the validity of allowing
                                               Emergency Medical Responders to avoid
                                               traditional fire cross-training. Over 80% of our
                                               calls are medically related and those responders
                                               can respond from home straight to the call
                                               “without fire trucks”.
 Public Programs & Services
                                  CPR/AED Training and Certification takes
                                  place the first Monday of each month from September to
                                  June at the Eastsound Fire Station, beginning at 7 pm.
                                  You must pre-register by calling 376-2331. There is no

                                  First Aid Training and Certification is also
                                  available at the Eastsound Fire Station. This 4-hour
                                  course begins at 5 pm. You must pre-register by calling
                                  376-2331. A $30 charge per student is due prior to the
                                  beginning of the class.

                                 Fire Extinguisher Services for the maintenance
and recharge/replacement of home and business fire extinguishers is available every second
Thursday of the month, before noon, at the Eastsound Fire Station.

Home Smoke Alarm Maintenance programs
and installation assistance is available upon request.
We can schedule a visit to test and replace your
smoke alarm batteries for free. We offer free
new/replacement smoke alarms for low income
households. Hearing-impaired smoke alarms are also
available. Please call 376-2331 for more

Free Smoke Alarm Battery Exchange.
Bring in your used detector batteries and exchange
them for FREE at the Eastsound Fire Station

Orcas FireWise – Preventing Home loss to Wildfire Personal home and site
visits for Wildland Fire Education and Mitigation strategies are available upon request at
no charge. We will happily schedule a visit to your site and assist you in planning your
own fire prevention plan around your home.

A variety of Public Safety and Fire Prevention Programs are offered to
the public, schools and service organizations:
         Fire Prevention and Home Safety
         Bike and Sport Helmet Sales
         Bike/Pedestrian Safety Courses
         Preschool Play Safe Be Safe Program
Fire Station Tours
Emergency Response Improvements
All responders now carry portable 2-way radios.
 This costly but critical move immediately
proved its worth. First, every member has the
ability to advise dispatch that help is on the
scene, whether or not an ambulance or fire truck
has arrived. Second, every member has the
ability to call for more help or slow down the
other responders as necessary for safety.
  Finally and perhaps most important, every
member has an electronic safety line back to
dispatch and their fellow responders in case of

                                                         In 2007, the Association teamed
                                                         up with the public to provide
                                                         Automatic External
                                                         defibrillators to every member
                                                         of the department. At a cost of
                                                         over $1000 each, this was a
                                                         tremendous effort on the part of
                                                         the association and a testament
                                                         to the support and generosity of
                                                         our residents. These small
                                                         devices have been proven to
                                                         make more difference in the
                                                         outcome of heart attacks than
                                                         any other field intervention.
                                                         With 56 square miles of island,
we are too far-flung for strategic placement of these machines. Experience has taught us
that they are more rapidly used in the hands of experienced care providers such as our
Out the Door Faster with more
Water on Board
The 1999 levy called for
improvements to all of the stations
and replacement of both Station 21
(Eastsound) and Station 24 (Deer
Harbor). The Rosario Station (23)
received the most improvements
with new doors and electric openers
as well as an exhaust removal
system due to the multi-use living
area. The interior of the living area
was finished and can be used for
night-time staffing when required.
Station 22 (Westsound), Station 25
(Obstruction Pass/Olga) and Station
26 (Orcas Landing) all received
new electric door openers to get our
volunteers in quickly as well as
keeping the heat from getting out
when they leave.

                                        WATER TENDERS
                                         Most water that the department
                                        uses in firefighting must come by
                                        truck. The department has more
                                        than doubled its water hauling
                                        capacity with two new 2,600 gallon
                                        water tankers each with the
                                        capability to load themselves from
                                        ponds or other water sources.
                                        These join our two aging 2,000
                                        gallon tankers which must be
                                        loaded by a pumper.
                                   Health & Wellness of
                                   Our Responders
                                  The overall wellness and fitness of all of our
                                  members is vitally important to the Department.
                                  To this end, the Department has adopted a
                                  wellness program which carefully monitors and
                                  seeks to improve the physical and mental
                                  condition of its members. This comprehensive
program includes searching for disease processes at an early and curable stage;
the Department wants its volunteers to remain
healthy long into the future.

This mandatory program, assisted by ongoing
cooperation among the Department, the volunteer’s
association, and local IAFF 3911 is positive in design
and does not penalize its participants. Rather, it is
rehabilitative in nature and provides for remedial
support, use of facilities provided or arranged by the
department and training and education for those in
need. It treats all fairly and equitably. Results are

These are the essential elements of the program:

    An annual health evaluation for each member
     which includes a cardiovascular work-up,            Bruce Brackett, long time
     pulmonary function/respiratory screening            volunteer is a living success
     (including fit-testing for masks used with          story for the new Health and
     emergency breathing apparatus), hearing             Wellness program. He
     tests, vision tests, and lab work.                  experienced tightness in his
                                                         chest and shortness of breath in
    A physical Fitness evaluation.                      March of 2008. Paramedic Mik
                                                         Preysz performed an EKG and
    Development of a long-term holistic wellness        compared it to an EKG
     plan that includes physical fitness, medical        preformed 2 weeks earlier as
     intervention, rehabilitation, behavioral health     part of the wellness program.
     matters.                                            There were enough subtle
                                                         changes to AirLift him to
    Encouragement of active family participation        Bellingham where quick action
     in adopting a wellness/fitness                      prevented any permanent heart
     lifestyle.                                          damage.

    Job safety.
     The Orcas Island Volunteer
     Firefighter EMT Association
     OIVFEA is the non-profit organization that supports the volunteer members of the
     department. Donations intended to support the volunteer effort are greatly appreciated and
     are tax deductible. The mission of the Orcas Island Volunteer Firefighter/EMT Association
     is to unite and support the volunteer members of the fire department in their efforts to
     promote and protect the safety and well being of the residents and guests of Orcas Island.

     This year through the generous contributions from Orcas Island donors, the Association
     purchased 15 AEDs (Automated External Defibrillator) so that Emergency Responders are
     equipped with the most effective tool in saving lives in the event of cardiac arrest.

The association sponsored two volunteers who entered a 15-month long paramedic program to attain
the training and credentials to assist the department as paramedics. Both students have done very
well and we look forward to their continued service to the community.
   Average Out the door Time is currently 1.87 minutes.
        Average Arrival on Scene = 7.38 minutes.

2004 = 559 Emergency Responses
           399 Medical Calls                 160 Fire Calls

                     71.38% Medical Calls

2007 = 617 Emergency Responses
             436 Medical Calls                 181 Fire Calls

                      70.66% Medical Calls

2004 = 77 Department Members
                                        38 Firefighters
                  16 FF/EMS
   23 EMTs

   50% Medical Responders

2007 = 56 Department Members
                                              9 Firefighters
                      29 FF/EMS
   17 EMTs

                      82% Medical Responders

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