A ferry isn't equipped to handle severely ill patients

Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Stephanie Scott, in her letter to the editor ("State's backup plan for road introduces uncertainty, expense," July 19), explains her support for maintaining the current ferry system by suggesting the ferry serves as a life-link "to make sure I can get to Juneau when my life or the lives of my friends or neighbors depends on it."

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While this may sound good, in reality the ferry does not offer that option. The ferry is not equipped with medical facilities or staff to attend to severely ill patients, and the time lost en route is a significant obstacle when a patient's life hangs in the balance. A ferry transport also would require a vessel conveniently to be in Haines, an uncommon occurrence.

In Haines, we routinely use medical flight services staffed by trained medical personnel to provide transport to Juneau, Sitka, Anchorage and Seattle. Aircraft vary from jets to helicopters. In times of blizzard or low-visibility rain the Coast Guard has been remarkable in its dedication to serve the severely ill. The most important point is that these services offer the patient the highest level of care in a timely manner, something that the ferry system cannot do.

John Norton

Ambulance crew

Haines Volunteer Fire Department


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