In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Protocols for strokes and heart attacks; should taxpayers be liable when goats attack?

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Cheers: To new emergency medical protocols for treating heart attack and stroke. The new statewide system, already in place here, routes patients to the hospital best able to serve their specialized needs, much as has been done with trauma victims. The protocol starts with medical responders, who are provided training on detailed triage procedures and assessing, treating and determining the appropriate hospital for their patients. For example, a hospital with a catheterization lab, such as PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, is much better equipped to treat a stroke patient and restore blood flow to impacted areas of the brain. That’s one reason Southwest has been designated a Level 1 stroke and cardiac center, the highest possible level. Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center received a Level 2 designation, where acute cardiac patients can be rapidly assessed and treated, and most stroke patients can be stabilized and treated.

Jeers: To suing the federal government over the actions of a wild mountain goat. No one doubts a goat killed Bob Boardman last October during a hike in Olympic National Park. But now family members have filed $10 million in claims against the federal government alleging wrongful death. The death was unfortunate, but making the federal government liable for monitoring and taking action against every wild creature on its lands would be an impossible precedent. Suppose someone stumbles on a gopher hole while walking a forest trail. Should the taxpayers have to pay for ankle surgery? How much pain and suffering is there in mosquito bites?

Cheers: To Bill Allman. The Vancouver resident has made a career of finding Washington residents who are eligible for, but not collecting, veterans benefits. By signing up for what they are due, veterans get better access to health care and services. In many instances the veterans are on Medicaid or other state assistance, so moving them to the federal system saves the state money, too. An estimated $30 million in state expenditures have been saved and 10,000 veterans and family members helped. No wonder other states are eager to adopt Allman’s procedures.

Jeers: To Gov. Chris Gregoire and the Legislature for leaving cash-strapped local governments to ferret out how to enforce conflicting state and federal marijuana laws. A new state law allows medical marijuana patients and providers to establish community gardens of up to 45 plants. But this week, Clark County commissioners extended the moratorium against pot gardens for a year. Most other local jurisdictions also have moratoriums. It’s hard to blame them. Who wants to spend the legal fees to settle the difference between the federal government’s prohibition of marijuana cultivation and the state’s more permissive laws?

Cheers: To the Lyle Falls fishway project in the Columbia River Gorge. This $12.5 million project on the Klickitat River, paid for through electricity rates, eases passage of native fish past a hydroelectric project. Every project counts in the federally mandated effort to save salmon.

Jeers: To the Washington State Department of Transportation’s reluctance to disclose the financing plan for the Seattle tunnel project to opponents. The News Tribune of Tacoma reports the opponents have gone to court to force disclosure under the state’s public records law; WSDOT had refused to hand over the document, citing an exemption in the law for “deliberative process” because it is under review by the Federal Highway Administration. The state insists the plan is not much different from an earlier public draft, but as the newspaper writes: “Good grief. Why don’t they just go ahead and add, ‘Trust us, we’re from the government?’”