February 22, 2013 • Vol. XXXVI, No. 3
Waterfront Sun Silhouette
The days are getting longer and the sun is higher in the sky, shining down on the mouth of the Skagway River on a morning walk to Yakutania Point.
Photo by Andrew Cremata
Carbon monoxide poisoning almost kills Skagway resident
CO on boat stops team from heading to tournament
By KATIE EMMETS
On the morning of February 15, Charles Doland went to the Skagway Small Boat Harbor to warm his boat up for that day’s trip to Haines.
He was taking his seven basketball teammates to the Dick Hotch Memorial Tournament, and while getting things ready onboard, he started to feel sick.
“A wave of nausea came over me and I went back in the cabin and grabbed onto the captain’s chair,” he said.
Teammates Tim Fairbanks and Chris Wassman noticed the state Doland was in and asked if he was feeling OK. He said he was a little sick, but they had to get going to Haines.
“Then I started to feel my legs shaking and the next thing I remember I was in the clinic,” Doland said. “Some of the guys thought I was dead.”
Fairbanks and Wassman moved him over to a table inside the boat’s cabin, and when Skagway Harbormaster Matt O’Boyle got down to the boat, he realized something was wrong. As a Skagway Firefighter/EMT, O’Boyle then radioed for help, Doland said.
Skagway Fire Department Chief Jeremy Simmons said the department received a request for aid at the harbor at 8:03 a.m. and were on the scene at 8:08 a.m. Medics delivered Doland to the Dahl Memorial Clinic at 8:25 a.m.
After talking to some of the other men who were there, Doland said, they figured he had been unconscious for about 40-50 minutes before he was put into the ambulance.
When he arrived at the clinic, nurse practitioner Dana Mathis gave him an oxygen mask and an IV with fluids.
“They thought it could have been a heart attack,” he said. “They thought I could have been dehydrated.”
Doland’s wife, Jauna, told him later on that he was able to tell Mathis symptoms he had and that he hadn’t eaten that day.
“The first thing I remember is saying the exhaust was really bad on the back of the boat,” he said. “And Dana’s face became really clear to me right then, and she said ‘this is carbon monoxide poisoning.’ “
Mathis then administered high-flow oxygen, which contains a higher percentage of oxygen than what one normally breathes in.
“I started coming out of the fog and could see people’s faces, and I realized I was in a room in the clinic,” he said.
Doland said Mathis was on the phone with Alaska Poison Control Center the whole time.
“They were very concerned about it and wanted to have the U.S. Coast Guard fly me to Juneau and get me in a hyperbaric chamber,” he said. “But the weather was so awful, so they made the decision to send me on the ferry.”
But because he was feeling better and the carbon monoxide in his blood had decreased significantly, Doland signed a medical release, which allowed him to leave the clinic and go home.
“I wasn’t trying to be a tough guy,” he said. “Aside from feeling worn out, I didn’t feel sick at all.”
Doland left the clinic at about 4 p.m., but continued to wear an oxygen mask for the next four days.
When he asked Mathis how long he could have lived without receiving high-flow oxygen, she told him less than 10 minutes.
“Basically they told me that without heavy doses of oxygen — even if they got me out of the boat, on the dock, into the air — there was no way I would have lived,” he said.
Doland said he had a carboxyhemoglobin level of 34 percent when he entered the clinic, and according to the website carbonmonoxidekills.com, a normal level is 0.4-0.7 percent. Doland said anything over 20 percent could be considered life-threatening.
Doland’s teammates were all tested for carbon monoxide poisoning, and some were treated with oxygen to get their carboxyhemoglobin levels down.
“While it was happening it wasn’t very scary at all,” Doland said. “And it didn’t hit home till I started doing research online and saw what could have happened.”
Doland said the carbon monoxide starved his organs and brain of oxygen to the point where they shut down, and though he has no signs of neurological damage now, it’s possible for damage to show up in the future along with Parkinson’s Disease, Lou Gehrig’s Disease and dementia.
Until he installs a carbon monoxide detection device on his boat, Doland will not be firing up the motors.
“The thought of getting carbon monoxide poisoning on a boat never even crossed my mind,” he said. “I figured you’re floating out in the briny blue and there’s air all around you. I have always pooh-poohed it, but I never will again.”
Carbon monoxide is not only a problem in homes, where it is most commonly heard about, but it is also dangerous in boats, said Simmons.
“It’s especially dangerous in boats because we leave them running a lot in unventilated areas,” Simmons said. “Not a lot of people realize that.”
After the incident on February 15, Simmons did a search online and determined that good carbon monoxide detectors range from $60-$120.
Carbon monoxide detectors can also be found at Skagway Hardware.
Doland said he is really impressed with the way the medics, clinic and his seven teammates handled the situation.
“I feel like the whole system stepped up,” he said. “It was really nice to see that amount of people on all different levels pulling together and basically saving my life.”
Airlift Northwest will be new preferred medical transport provider for Skagway
By KATIE EMMETS
Medical transport provider Airlift Northwest will begin serving the Skagway community with all of its medevac needs in May.
Apollo Medi Trans is now covering Airlift Northwest as its preferred provider after a five-year contract with Guardian Flight was not renewed.
Starting May 1, an Airlift Northwest turboprop engine will be staged in Juneau. The plane’s size will allow it to land and take off from the Skagway Airport.
Because the plane will be Juneau, the response time will be quicker than that of Guardian Flight, which is based in Sitka, said Dahl Memorial Clinic Medical Director Carol Borg.
Borg said Airlift Northwest will start out with a 12-hour per day window of operation for Skagway medical emergencies, and added that the U.S. Coast Guard will continue to provide medevac service when it is dark.
Airlift Northwest is a not-for-profit entity that is part of the University of Washington.
“We are seen as a regional provider,” said Chris Martin, Airlift Northwest executive director. “Airlift flies patients to the hospital they are referred to by their physician. We don’t make the decision for them.”
Airlift Northwest is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Services, the "gold standard" in air medical transport, Martin said, and on each transportation flight, there are two critical care nurses that each have a minimum of five years intensive care unit experience.
“The planes are mobile intensive care units,” she said. “(Health care providers) do what they need to do to get the patient stabilized, and then they call us. We continue the intensive care of the patient till we are able to get them to definitive care.”
Martin said Airlift Northwest is excited to be serving Skagway and expanding its transport coverage.
Borg said the Dahl Memorial Clinic found out that Apollo MT would no longer be carrying Guardian Flight last summer and has since been searching for other options.
Though Airlift Northwest was already located in Juneau, Borg said in an earlier interview, the existing plane was too big to land in Skagway, which is why a turboprop will be added to the fleet.
For those who would rather continue on with Guardian Flight, the medical transport company is developing its own insurance plan, Borg said.
Manager selection committee to decide who makes it to Skagway in-person interview round
By KATIE EMMETS
After conducting phone interviews with three Skagway Borough Manager applicants, the selection committee will narrow down the search this week by scheduling in-person interviews pending information from background checks.
The three candidates are George Edes of Pismo Beach, California; Jon Erickson of Juneau; and Troy Heaton of Hydaburg.
Each candidate was interviewed in an open session and asked a series of 10 questions by Skagway Borough Assemblymen Mark Schaefer and Steve Burnham Jr. and Dan Henry.
George Edes was interviewed first on February 12.
Now retired, Edes has more than five years of city manager experience, which includes serving one year in Wrangell. He also worked as the administrative services director and treasurer of the City of Pismo Beach, in which he oversaw and performed financial planning and low-cost financing for capital improvement programs; and handled the treasury and investment services, accounting, budgeting, payroll, utility billing, information systems, and risk management.
Edes has been retired for a little over a year and wants to go back to working after finding a renewed sense of enthusiasm for public sector work. Edes said he envisions working for the next four to five years before retiring again.
Edes holds an MBA from the University of Utah.
Troy Heaton, who was also interviewed on February 12, is principal and chief administrator of the Hydaburg City School District.
He has worked for more than eight years in school and business administration and has experience with grant writing, government contracts and managing budgets. Heaton has worked with the Board of Education and other corporate boards and is familiar with open meeting rules and regulations.
Heaton has a Master’s Degree in school administration from Prescott College in Arizona.
Jon Erikson is a Planner II for the Alaska Governor’s Council on Aging in Juneau where he does research and analysis in financial assessment and development for the Senior and Disability Services.
Erickson has one year of city manager experience in Thorne Bay where he oversaw human relations, legal issues, budget, utilities, finances, grants auditing, harbors, solid waste, waste water, police, roads, planning and advocating.
He was also a school district administrator in Washington and was responsible for eight of 28 schools in the district of Clover Park.
In his phone interview on February 14, Erikson said he has worked with government entities such as the Department of Environmental Conservation, the United States Forest Service, Alaska Native Tribal Councils, and Alaska state senators and is familiar with other state agencies. Erickson also has experience with grant and policy writing.
He holds a Doctorate and a Masters of Education from Washington State University.
Skagway Borough Clerk Emily Deach said the selection committee did the background checks after in-person interviews for its first manager search in January. Then they rejected the applicants.
The committee will do things differently this time.
“Before they seriously consider someone, they want to make sure there isn’t anything to worry about,” Deach said. “The municipality doesn’t want to spend money bringing someone up if they won’t be seriously considered.”
This issue went to press before candidates were chosen for in-person interviews. Updates on the search will appear on the News website.
SCHOOL FEATURE: Skagway FTC Robotics Team Sprocketoids takes Southeast again
Team members Rosalie Westfall, Alexandra Weber and Riley Westfall pose with their Inspire Award in Hoonah. Vivian Meyer, Skagway School
Assembly passes first reading of ordinance to do away with public vote on large land leases
With a 4-1 vote, the Skagway Borough Assembly passed the first reading of an ordinance that, if adopted, would no longer require voter approval of leases of municipal property with a value greater than $250,000.
According to Ordinance No. 13-05, the repeal of Skagway Municipal Code Section 16.02.025, the public vote, would increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the municipality’s management of public process. The ordinance states that voter ratification language in the code subjects leases of almost any size to ratification by the voters, which inhibits the ability of both the municipality and potential lessees to plan and develop allowable uses on lease lands in a timely manner.
The ordinance states that the remainder of the code without having a vote provides adequate safeguards to protect the public interest regarding the lease of public lands, including requirements that the land to be leased shall be classified by ordinance for particular land uses and a land use plan approved by the assembly is publically posted; that the land be appraised to determine the fair market value of the lease; and that any lease is approved by the ordinance, which requires a public process involving thirty days public notice, two readings of the ordinance and a public hearing.
Attached to this Ordinance No. 13-05 was a letter from Skagway Borough Attorney Bob Blasco, which states that if passed, this ordinance would repeal a section of municipal code that requires a referral to the voters, and it is a change in a voting procedure or practice that would require submission to the Department of Justice for preclearance under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act before the ordinance can become effective and be implemented.
During the February 8 meeting, there were four assembly members present, Assemblyman Dan Henry and Mayor Stan Selmer were teleconferencing and Assemblyman Mike Korsmo was absent.
Reichert said he would support the ordinance during its first reading so the assembly could continue discussion on it when there were more people at the table.
Assemblyman Gary Hanson said he is was against the change.
“The (ordinance) is saying that the public already has ample opportunity to weigh in because there’s a first reading and they can come and speak at citizens present and there’s a second meeting and they can come and talk there,” he said. “But we’ve already had examples in the not too distant past of this room being full of people speaking for something and having the assembly vote against it.”
Hanson said he looks at the public vote as a final check much like the United States Federal Government’s checks and balances.
“It’s the final check on an assembly that might not have the best interest of the people of Skagway,” he said.
Hanson encouraged the assembly to vote the ordinance down and not let it get to a second reading.
Assemblyman Steve Burnham Jr. said his reservation on adopting this ordinance is the assembly would be effectively taking something in code that requires voter approval out without voter approval, but he said the argument that it was put into code without a vote of the people could also stand.
“I don’t think we were elected to be held to decisions that the public has to vet, they already vetted it by voting for us,” he said. “I would really like to hear from public who clearly has a problem with this.”
Burnham said he agreed with Reichert and would vote in favor of this ordinance on its first reading for more discussion.
“I would be very open to any kind of suggestions from the public about it,” he said.
Assemblyman Dan Henry said he disagrees with Hanson.
“As far as input from the public, they certainly have the opportunity, as with any action taken by the assembly, to come and let their voice be heard,” he said. “I think it’s the responsibility of the assembly and the mayor to get together and do the city’s business in this regard.”
The first reading of the ordinance passed with a 4-1 vote with Hanson voting no.
The assembly has scheduled the second reading for the regularly scheduled March 7th meeting when all the assemblymen and mayor will be present.
Report on Florida White Pass negotiations coming
After a February 7 executive session, the Skagway Borough Assembly unanimously approved travel to Florida for Mayor Stan Selmer, Borough Manager Tom Healy, Borough Attorney Bob Blasco, and Finance Chair Dan Henry to negotiate with White Pass on waterfront lease and dock issues, and to send their recommendation back to the assembly.
Rai Sahi, the chair of White Pass parent company ClubLink Enterprises, has a winter home in Florida. The negotiations were held Thursday.
The assembly was scheduled to hold a special meeting at 4 p.m. today, Feb. 22, to discuss the findings in executive session. The session was cancelled after a phone-in report from the mayor at the Feb. 21 regular meeting saying the parties were still working on an agreement. – KE
DYEA ROADWORK BEGINS – Left, drill holes at the top of ‘Hackett Hill’ await powder and the next big blast by contractor Hamilton Construction. This section is being dropped to run next to the river. Right, a drill rig working above the area known as “The Drops” on the west side of Nahku Bay is serviced by a fuel truck from the road below. Jeff Brady
School Board adds details to new goals
The Skagway School Board continued to develop a list of achievable goals to incorporate into a school improvement plan.
At a February 6 work session, the board worked on adding details to three SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timebound) goals created in a January workshop.
While discussing the first goal — which requires the Skagway School District to promote effective communication and partnerships with parents, local businesses, government, and other agencies — the board decided it could implement a multi-pronged plan for execution.
The plan includes creating a Facebook page to keep in contact with the community, an annual community barbecue with school orientation for new families and the creation of two subcommittees. One subcommittee will focus on communications with public entities like the Skagway Borough Assembly, and the other will develop and maintain relationships with local organizations and businesses in order to get them involved in the Skagway School and create on the job training opportunities for its students
The board decided that goal two — which is to actively recruit, retain and develop highly competent, caring and student-focused staff by putting into practice state of the art technology that provides students and staff with full working and learning capability — could be achieved by filling holes in the school staff by hiring a vocational technology teacher and a science teacher. The board hopes to find teachers who are certified to teach computer science, a world language or social studies to fill these positions.
Goal three — setting and meeting high expectations for academic achievement, teaching standards, administration accomplishments and board performance — could be met by creating and perfecting performance evaluations of the superintendent and teachers. The school will be evaluating students too by commissioning a study to measure alumni success by making phone calls and getting an idea of what Skagway’s students do after they graduate.
The board could also achieve this goal by providing a professional guidance counselor for its students.
The board will continue to work on draft goals in future meetings. Its next regular meeting will be March 12. – KE