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SEPTEMBER 29, 1997

Opinion

Congratulations go to Kenmore

  Congratulations are in order to the people of Kenmore, for voting themselves to become a new city. Unfortunately however, some people may have cast their votes based on some very very misleading and uninformed statements contained in recent letters to the editor in your publication. One in particular from Mr. Ed Garrido.
  
   References were made in his letter to a conversation Mr. Garrido had with a Firefighter at the Northshore Fire Department, about Emergency Medical Services which caused the letter writer grave concern. Had the information he stated been accurate in any way his concerns would have been valid.
  
   Comparisons were made between the EMS system in New York City to those being provided to the Kenmore and North King County area, which were totally false. I have been a member of the team of firefighter paramedics which have provided Medic One services to Shoreline and Kenmore for 18 years. Shoreline Fire Department has administered the Medic One program for this area since its inception nearly 21 years ago. While King County EMS has within the past year, made some changes based on statistical demographics, your service level for Medic One services remains excellent and cannot be compared to any other like service in the country.
  
   Until March 1996, New York City provided EMS services NOT through the Fire Department, but rather, through a separate very non productive and non coordinated EMS system. The present mayor of New York has implemented changes which will in time model the New York system much like the King County - Seattle success. As of March 1997, only half of their firefighters had been trained to do even the most basic EMS skills. The EMS division was slowly being integrated into the fire department under a new Assistant Fire Chief of EMS.
  
   Prior to the EMS system being taken over by the Fire Department in New York City these were the FACTS:
   Average response time not including talking with the 911 operator was 8 minutes 46 seconds. Usually about 10 minutes.
  
   30% of all potentially life threatening emergencies (135,000 per year) took more than 10 minutes for the arrival of an ambulance (non fire department). Hundreds more calls took more than 20 minutes to receive services.
  
   12-14 percent of the time there was NO ambulance available when a dispatcher took a call.
   98.6% of cardiac arrest victims in New York City were dying . (We here have a success rate approaching 30 percent on average.)
  
   Because the New York City System stationed ambulances on the street in neighborhoods, 70% of the time the ambulance assigned to a specific area was not available to their area. 25% of all calls labeled "potentially life threatening" by EMS operators have never received a paramedic level response.
  
   By New York City switching to a modified version of a Fire Department based system using Firemen doing EMS, the city has saved millions of dollars in administrative costs alone in the first year. Those savings were allowed to remain in the system to enhance it even more in the coming years.
  
   Our system here in King County, Seattle, Kenmore, Shoreline is light years ahead of the comparison used in Mr. Garrido's letter. We are light years ahead simply due to a vision which has been in force for 25 years. We are light years ahead due to the fact that INFORMED citizens have provided levy money every six years in order to maintain a system of excellence that will always respond 24 hours a day in less than 4-5 minutes for a first unit arrival, and less than 10 minutes on average for a paramedic unit arrival.
   Please don't compare your system to that of New York City. It is simply not a comparison.
  
   P.S. The fire stations referenced in Mr. Garrido's letter in fact belong to the City of Kirkland. If you will note they are located south of 145th street.
   Gordon E. Pomeroy
   Firefighter Paramedic
  
   NY City Source: "Enhancing Emergency Medical Care in New York City" Authored by New York City Fire Department