Tag Archives: Orcas Island Fire and Rescue

Staying on the Island We Love

Teri Williams, T WIlliams RealtyBy Teri Williams

This was the topic for the 2015 Orcas Island Senior Faire. The annual event is geared to inform and share services available to seniors and their families on Orcas Island by bringing it all together under one roof. Add lunch prepared at the Senior Center and a three-piece band and you have an event to remember! I even saw a few people dancing, taking full advantage of live music and a break in the speakers.


My job was to distribute information and answer questions about Lahari.

I have to admit there was a lot of information to take in, people to connect with and thank-yous to acknowledge – Dennis King, Paul Losleben, Wendy Stephens and Jami Mitchell for putting this event together – and to the many Orcas volunteers, seniors, family members and caregivers who give unconditionally and support our wish to stay on the island we love.


Speakers delivered lots of information at the  event.

Here is a list of the participants for this year and links to resources:

Medicare and You
Peggy Groundwater and Michael Moss, SHIBA; and Diane Linnell, DSHS

When Emergencies Happen
Mike Preysz, Orcas Island Fire and Rescue; Cindy McFreely, Airlift Northwest

Lions Mobility Assistance Equipment Loaner Program
Barbara Trunkey, Orcas Island Lions


The band entertained and even sparked some dancing.

Advance Directives
Libby Garcia, RN

EKG Baselines
Rita Harvey and crew, Orcas Island Fire and Rescue

Falls and Sprawls, How Not to Do It
Scott Heisinger, DTP, Orcas Island Physical Therapy

Aging in the Right Place
Dennis King, Lahari

Bringing Services into the Home
Didier Gincig, Hearts and Hands
Doug Schliebus, Orcas at Home

Caregiving on Orcas
Dennis King, Lahari

Caregiving Perspectives
Caregiving Panel, Lahari


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Stayin’ Alive on Orcas Island with Top Emergency Medical Care

Sandi Friel

Posted by Sandi

Recently I took a community CPR Class offered by Orcas Fire and Rescue. It wasn’t at all what I expected – there was no mouth-to-mouth! We were taught the new hands-only technique of chest compressions to the tune of the Bee Gees “Stayin’ Alive.” Apparently not only the theme of the song is appropriate, but the beat is just the right speed for compressions and easy to conjure up in the throes of an emergency.

CPR class on Orcas Island

Free CPR class held recently at the Deer Harbor Community Club.

The presentation revealed that cardiac arrest is most likely to happen at home and the first moments of response are critical. Chances of survival decrease 5 -10 percent every minute without CPR. Ideally CPR should be administered within 4 minutes.

Northwest on Orcas Island

Airlift Northwest, a cost effective provider of medical airlift service, visits a recent Saturday Farmers Market on Orcas.

What really got my attention is how our area ranks in emergency medical care. I was pleasantly surprised to learn San Juan County is one of the highest ranking rural counties for out-of-hospital cardiac survivability, i.e. able to leave the hospital with normal function. According to the CDC, nationally only seven percent of people who experience out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OHCA) survive. But in San Juan County, the survival rate is closer to 50%. And in 2012, 80% of patients with OHCA were stabilized and delivered to the hospital with their hearts pumping on their own.

This is impressive, especially considering we’re an isolated island community. So how do we do it?

I spoke with OIFR Assistant Chief Mik Preysz, and he gives much of the credit to San Juan County Medical Program Director Dr. Michael Sullivan for keeping our first responders equipped with cutting edge equipment, extensive training and community outreach programs, such as CPR classes. Dr. Sullivan’s resume is a dream sheet of emergency medicine experience; we are lucky to have him in our community heading our medical program.

Another positive statistic is emergency response times. In 2012 there were 783 alarm calls on Orcas Island with an overall average response time of 8 minutes, 17 seconds. The average response time for Eastsound Station 21 was 6 minutes, 14 seconds. This compares favorably to Seattle, with a model EMS response time of 8 minutes or less for 90% of calls. Seattle is tops among cities worldwide for response times and emergency medical care, and Orcas and San Juan County are working to deliver a similar standard of care for our island residents.

With budget constraints and a paid OIFR staff of twelve (including eight emergency responders), this level of care in our rural environment is only possible through an amazing network of 85 volunteers (including 62 first responders).  Still, we should all do our part and learn CPR. Let’s keep Orcas Stayin’ Alive!

Looking to enjoy the simple life on beautiful Orcas Island?
Contact T Williams Realty – we’ll help you find your way home.


Filed under Community