EMS levy on ballot

Charlie Damron (left) and Jeremy Payette respond in July 2018 to a call about an individual with heart pain and trouble breathing in Mount Vernon.

Three of Skagit County’s emergency medical services providers say they were caught unaware by a county plan to require them to report drug overdose data.

Mount Vernon Fire Chief Bryan Brice said he was unaware of the new ordinance, which was approved Tuesday by the Skagit County Board of Commissioners, until contacted by the Skagit Valley Herald.

The rule requires hospitals and EMS providers to report fatal and nonfatal overdoses to the county. The data will be used by county Public Health to craft programs that are better-targeted specifically to Skagit County.

County staff say they reached out to the city EMS providers in May and held two stakeholder meetings, but those meetings were poorly attended.

Brice said he supports the idea but was frustrated he and his colleagues weren’t more closely consulted on how to report the data and how it would be used.

“We all have to be involved,” he said.

Sedro-Woolley City Supervisor and Attorney Eron Berg and Nick Walsh, division chief with the Anacortes Fire Department, both said they were unaware of the rule but aren’t that concerned about it.

Joanne Lynn, communicable disease and environmental health manager with county Public Health, said the rule doesn’t take effect until April, and her department plans to use the next 90 days to work with providers to make a plan.

She said she will start one-on-one meetings with providers soon.

EMS Director Jeff Sargent said he sent out invitations to each of the city fire chiefs about the stakeholder meetings, but accidentally left Brice out.

When few people attended the May stakeholder meetings, Sargent said he took that to mean EMS providers didn’t have concerns to express.

“If you don’t show up to the first meeting, it doesn’t seem like you’re that concerned,” he said.

Kari Ranten, spokeswoman for Skagit Regional Health, said members of her organization met with Public Health as it was crafting the rule.

— Reporter Brandon Stone: bstone@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2112, Twitter: @Brandon_SVH

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