— from Marla Johns, Orcas Fire —
Crews from Orcas Island Fire & Rescue responded to multiple simultaneous calls for service Thursday evening, including an incident with an airplane.
At 3:10 p.m., crews from OIFR responded to a medical aid call. A decision was made to transport the patient off island using Island Air Ambulance. The patient was loaded into an ambulance for transfer; however, before they could arrive at the airport a second call was paged at 5:30 p.m. for OIFR to respond to an incident with a downed airplane. As crews were responding to the airport, a third call came in at 5:50 p.m. for an injured hiker on Mt. Constitution.
Crews responding to the airport arrived to find an airplane which had landed without landing gear deployed. The pilot escaped the event without sustaining any injuries; however the downed aircraft caused the airport to be shut down.. To manage the multiple calls, one OIFR crew remained at the airport to assist with securing the scene and to communicate by radio with aircraft, including the inbound Island Air Ambulance, alerting them to the closed airport. Another BLS (basic life support) crew cared for the original patient while a third crew responded to assist the injured hiker at Mt. Constitution.
During the airport closure, OIFR staff worked together with the Sheriff’s Department and Orcas Auto Tech/Orcas Towing to ensure the aircraft was safely removed from the runway and the necessary investigations conducted. Once the downed aircraft was cleared from the runway and the airport opened, Island Air was able to safely land and transport the patient for further evaluation and treatment. The airport closure was in effect for approximately 45 minutes; during which time the patient remained stable and tended to by the Basic Life Support (BLS) crew. The injured hiker was transported by the third crew for evaluation of their injury as well.
Thanks to the staff and volunteers of Orcas Island Fire and Rescue, this coordination and response of multiple simultaneous calls demonstrates the ability of OIFR to safely and effectively care for the multiple needs of the Orcas Island community. Thanks also to the Sheriff’s Department and Orcas Auto Tech for continuing to be partners in the commitment to serve the residents and visitors of Orcas Island.