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September 15,1997.


EMS in King County

  In your September 8th issue of the Northlake News, I was somewhat shocket at the contents of a "letter to the editor" from Mr. Eduardo Garrido. The letter unfortunately contains many gross misstatements of fact and leads the reader to be concerned about emergency medical service in the Kenmore-Northshore area. The writer states that he talked to a fire fighter where he obtained his information and I hope that we have not contributed to his misunderstanding. Regardless, I would like to set the record straight.
   The EMS system in King County is recognized throughout the world as the best. The Northshore Fire Department is a full partner in this system. The system is referred to as a "tiered" system. Most critical to survival of cardiac arrest is early detection and treatment. The most efficient situation is a winessed collapse where the E9-1-1 telephone system is used and the citizen begins CPR while the emergency units respond. The first responder is an aid car or fire truck from one of four fire stations, manned by Fire Fighter/EMT's, trained in automatic defibrillation. They are followed immediately by a "Medic Unit" manned by Fire Fighter/Paramedics or Paramedics from Evergreen Hospital. The patient when stabilized, is trasnported by our Paramedics to the appropriate hospital emergency department for continuing treatment. To the best of my knowledge, no private ambulance service is a "first responder" anywhere in King County and definitely not in the Northshore area. Ambulances are utilized for routine hospital transport of non-life threatening patients.
   The statistical analysis conducted by the Center for Evaluation of Medical Services, EMS Division of Seattle-King Co. Department of Public Health and the University of Washington, Drs. Mickey Eisenberg and Richard Cummins, and others, indicate that survival rates in King County are excellent and have not been duplicated in any other major metropolitan area. The assertion that New York City provides better EMS services is just plainly incorrect. It is nationally recognized in the medical and emergency community, that the "best place to have a heart attack is in the Seattle-King County area."
   In most fire departments in this area, EMS responses by fire fighter/EMT's account for 70 percent of our total emergency responses. I believe that most citizens recognize the high quality of EMS services provided by their local fire departments. The county wide EMS Levy provides critical funding to insure this high level of service to our citizens. I am very proud of the service provided by our fire fighters and would invite any citizen who has concerns to please contact me at the Headquarters Station of the Northshore Fire Department at 486-2784.
   Fred Baker
   Fire Chief