Submitted by San Juan Island Fire and Rescue
This time, it wasn’t the stork who made the middle of the night call to assist two pregnant mothers.
Just before 3 a.m. on Sept. 13, San Juan Island EMS and San Juan Island Fire & Rescue were requested to transport a patient from PeaceHealth Peace Island Medical Center to Island Hospital in Anacortes via the Sheriff’s boat.
As has been the case most of the week, the smoke was too thick for any aircraft to fly in or out and the patient could not wait for the ferry. This woman, a high-risk pregnancy, was in active labor and getting close to delivering her baby. The crews assembled and transported the patient, along with a resident physician from UW Medicine, to the Sheriff’s boat.
As the Fire & EMS crew was about to depart San Juan Island with their first patient, Orcas Island Fire & Rescue also responded to a woman in active labor. Through coordination between the three agencies, the Sheriff’s Boat, operated by the fire department, met with Orcas Island Fire & Rescue to retrieve the second patient.
“This is the best example of cooperation I have seen in my 24 years of providing prehospital medicine. Four different Fire/EMS departments, the San Juan County Sheriff’s Department, and two hospitals all came together to care for these patients in the middle of a smoky night when there were literally no other options,” San Juan County EMS Medical Program Director Dr. Joshua Corsa said.
The Orcas patient, however, was much closer to delivering her child. After the boat got underway, her contractions became continuous and to the surprise of all, the mother delivered her baby as the boat passed through Thatcher Pass.
Now with three patients, the crew continued to race to Anacortes where they were met by the Anacortes Fire Department for transport to the hospital. No sooner did the Fire and EMS crews arrive at Island Hospital than the first patient delivered her baby as well, with the island crew assisting the nursing staff in caring for the mother and baby.
“Thanks to the skilled, cooperative work of everyone involved, all four patients are doing well,” Corsa said.
SJIF&R and SJIEMS crews sanitized the vessel and were able to take on needed coffee and muffins for the return trip to Friday Harbor
“It’s incidents like these that make our little group of islands so special, and I am proud to have the opportunity to share it with the citizens we serve,” Corsa said. “Our county’s firefighters, paramedics, dispatchers, and deputies stand ready to serve, and ready do whatever is needed to care for their fellow islanders, at any time, and in any condition.”