Letter: First responders are first line of defense in crisis


On March 12, the South Whidbey Fire/EMS Depart-ment, with the board of fire commissioners, approved a resolution that everyone in our community should support; a proposed 30 cent fire levy lid lift.

The lid lift equates to 30 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value and will be entered on the ballot for voter consideration during the primary election held on Aug. 4.

According to the South Whidbey Fire Chief, Rusty Palmer, they have lost almost 30% of their volunteer emergency responders since 2010, yet the call volumes increased at an average rate of 10% per year.

Of those calls, 80%, are for emergency medical services, a demand that the department struggled to meet even before the unfolding of the pandemic.

Currently, the district relies on mutual aid from neighboring fire districts, which can take longer to serve a victim in their time of need.

Additionally, our community insurance rating was downgraded in 2018; the insurance rating is linked to what homeowners and businesses pay in insurance premiums.

The downgrade was a direct result of insufficient staffing and deficiencies in aging apparatuses.

Residents of south Whidbey Island should vote “yes” in favor of the 30-cent fire levy lid lift; doing so will ensure that members of our community benefit from improved response times and emergency medical services. The additional funds will allow the fire district to hire additional full-time emergency personnel, replace aging apparatus, and will result in an improved community insurance rating.

Residents of south Whidbey Island rely on our first responders — they are our first line of defense in times of crisis — this is our opportunity to provide them the resources they require to continue to deliver the services we can’t live without.

Elin Waldal