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History of Basin Volunteer Ambulance Service (BVAS) and the Volunteers. 
Merrill, Malin, Tulelake, Newell, and surrounding areas.

by Curtis Newkirk, EMT Intermediate with volunteer ambulance service of 49 years, May 1, 2019

(Action Needed by those in the Merrill and Malin Fire Districts in the upcoming election)

BVAS was created by volunteers in the early 1980's by a “baker’s dozen”of individuals, mostly California residents. These volunteers formed BVAS and managed the operation with an operating board elected from the individuals from the Tulelake Basin, Malin and Merrill.

This group of volunteers was allowed to affiliate with the Malin Rural Fire Department and operated your local BVAS from the early 1980's until 1998. At that time they requested that the Klamath County Commissioners allow the formation of a special district. They selected Basin Ambulance Service District (BASD) as the special district name. They selected Hatfield, Oregon for the location of their headquarters so the location represented was central to the three towns, and so that the California EMTs could practice up to the level of their Oregon license training.

It was so important to the volunteers that California residents who volunteer would have a vote in the operation of the new district that they consulted with attorneys from the office of Boivin and Erlings to draft bylaws for the operation of BASD. This was to protect their rights and insure representation, as the move to just over the border prevents California residents to vote in the BASD election.

The new District Directors appointed by the Klamath County Commissioners were Tom Ongman, Wayne Meek, Myself (Curtis Newkirk) and 2 others. The new BASD board of directors adopted the new bylaws dated 1999 and a Policy and Procedures manual obtained from the Special Districts Association of Oregon. Adoption of the bylaws established the BASD/BVAS operating board made up of active volunteers. BASD operated under the terms of the adopted bylaws from 1999 until 2017, with the volunteer operating board making the decisions and the BASD board ratifying decisions. The current board elected Tom Ongman as chairman of the BASD board in 2017, and, after 18 years, the board no longer abides by the legally established bylaws.

Since 2017, Chairman Tom Ongman proceeded to declare the operating board as illegal, and that the elected board will be responsible for all decisions. This is in direct conflict with both the adopted bylaws and the express wishes of the many volunteers who were the founders of BVAS/BASD. By dissolution of the operating board you eliminate any voting by all the volunteers, California and Oregon volunteers alike. This also put ALL decisions regarding life saving equipment and the personnel (EMTs) needed to use them under the control of just five persons, instead of the members of BVAS and the communities they were created to serve on both sides of the border (Merrill, Malin, Tulelake, Newell, and surrounding areas.)

It must be noted that the volunteers are the source of income for BASD as the special district is a non-taxing special district which operates on run revenue. Without the dedication of the volunteers, you have no revenue thus no ambulance service.

September 15, 1992 the Federal Judge in Crescent City ruled that the $100,000 that was earned and raised through fund raisers was property of the volunteers and Basin Volunteer Ambulance Service.

On April 18th, 2019 during an executive session, three volunteer members of BVAS were terminated (kicked Off) the Basin Volunteer Ambulance Service. These volunteers were terminated without being notified in advance. They also were not given the opportunity to request that consideration of their dismissal be heard during a public hearing with a date to be determined, as allowed by Oregon Law.

'All three of the EMTs suddenly terminated did not violate any policy, procedure, by-law, law, operating guideline, or training that they had been provided, nor did they made any mistakes in medical care and no medical care mistakes were ever alleged.

The third individual was also not notified that he was a subject of the executive session and therefore was denied due process to allow him to request a public executive hearing. To this date he has not been given a reason for his termination. He was only aware that he had been terminated when one BASD board member came to his residence and informed him of the termination of his service.

The following was developed as a closing statement developed by input from several BVAS volunteers:

The board decided to terminate Curtis Newkirk (EMT Intermediate with volunteer ambulance service of 49 years), Jim Derra and Heidi Wright (EMT's who completed their training and have been serving for about 10 months), all who live close to the Malin Fire hall where Ambulance 474 is stationed. With this decision, the board totally removed any EMT who can conveniently respond to Ambulance 474, resulting in a considerable delay for the residents of the Malin area because volunteers from Merrill and Tulelake are the only volunteers left to respond. The other critical element to this is, by terminating Curtis Newkirk, they also removed an EMT that is licensed to administer the life saving cardiac drugs and other drugs to be used in the field. Curtis Newkirk was one of the only 4 EMT-Intermediate level individuals able to do this cardiac level of skill. By terminating without any stated cause, they went far beyond any personality a conflict; they penalized three communities by eliminating an intermediate level EMT.

'Please understand that if you do call 9-1-1 for a medical reason, an ambulance will come just as fast as they can, and you will still get good care. But now, there are significantly fewer EMTs to respond, and the loss of an Intermediate level EMT is a tremendous loss. There are no other known EMTs waiting in the wings to replace those that were terminated without cause, let alone one trained to the Intermediate level. There is a lengthy process involved in becoming a licensed EMT, and then there is the consideration that they are all volunteers and might not be able to break away from their jobs. The three terminated are in unique situations where they could almost always break away and respond at a moment's notice. There are many EMTs affiliated with BVAS at this time, but, in reality,less than 10 were responding on a regular basis. Three of those most responsive EMTs are now gone.

So, what can be done? You should be receiving a ballot in the mail. In the current elections for Special Districts, 
I am supporting our communities and am voting. Vote for Jim Derra and Bonnie Overcash for Basin Ambulance Board.



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