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VIFR will hold public hearing on paramedic proposal

Vashon Island Fire & Rescue (VIFR) will hold a public meeting on Tuesday to answer questions and take feedback on proposed changes to its paramedic program. The meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 19, at VIFR's main station on Bank Road.

VIFR and King County Medic One have proposed absorbing Vashon's eight paramedics — responders who handle the island's most serious medical emergencies — into south King County's rotation of 72 paramedics. The move would mean Vashon's two-paramedic teams would not split up, a change officials say would provide better care to critical patients. They also say the new system would allow Vashon's current paramedics to better keep up their skills by responding to more calls and a greater variety of medical emergencies. In turn, new paramedics coming from off-island would have more experience in recent years.

Others have concerns about what would happen when Vashon's two on-duty paramedics leave the island to transport a patient to the hospital. A proposal presented this week calls for paramedics working in south King County to come to the island to provide coverage when Vashon's paramedics are gone and during late-night hours when ferries are not in operation. The new system may also rely more heavily on helicopter transports of patients.

The director of King County Medic One, Jim Fogarty, will attend the meeting to answer questions.

Read more about the possible paramedic transition here, and watch www.vashonbeachcomber.com for more.

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