Without local candidates to weed out before the general election, the Aug. 7 primary election isn’t particularly exciting.
It is, however, vital that voters on Whidbey Island return their ballots and vote in favor of the WhidbeyHealth Emergency Medical Services’ levy renewal.
After all, the state has made it as easy as it could be to vote. The ballots come in the mail and can be returned without having to buy a postage stamp.
The ambulance service isn’t asking for an increase in the operating levy, though the number of medical-related 911 calls continues to increase.
Calls for ambulance assistance rose by more than 2,000 calls during the past seven years to a total of about 8,000 per year.
That’s about 22 calls a day for the six advanced, life-support ambulances.
Whidbey Island property owners who pay Island County property taxes would continue to pay 50 cents per $1,000 of their assessed property value to the EMS levy.
The owner of a house with $300,000 will pay $150 a year for a service that may someday save his or her life or the life of a relative, friend or neighbor.
That makes it a bargain.
The levy accounts for about 60 percent of the $8-million budget for WhidbeyHealth EMS. The service runs a pretty tight ship, all things considered. It operates 24-hour, 365 days a year and is prepared to handle a wide range of medical emergencies, whether it’s a fainting spell, a heart attack or trauma from an accident.
EMS employs about 50 people, including paramedics, EMTs, office staff and managers. The department also provides fire departments on Whidbey Island additional ambulances equipped with basic life support and funds to offset costs of responding to medical calls.
As the population continues to grow and age on Whidbey Island, the need and importance of swift and professional emergency medical services is more vital than ever. Voting for the levy should be an easy decision to make.