NINILCHIK, Alaska (KTUU) - A tense meeting over reduced emergency services in Ninilchik was cut short Thursday night after a man collapsed, calling emergency responders into action.
“A man just collapsed in the back of the building,” Zoe Dixon, a Ninilchik resident, said in a Facebook Live stream of the incident. Responders then rush to the back of the room and the feed is turned off.
Citing privacy concerns Ninilchik Emergency Services would not confirm the condition of the man who collapsed during the meeting -- only that he was transported in an ambulance. They did not specify where he was taken.
This incident happened three hours into a tense town hall meeting. Ninilchik residents organized the meeting after news of the termination of Fire Chief David Bear and Assistant Chief Grace Huhndorf. They were the only NES responders certified to perform advanced life saving measures.
"My question is the same question that came from the other end of the building: what was the reason for terminating?" a resident pressed NES Board President Darrel Williams, as cheers erupted from the packed building.
When pushed for further explanation for the terminations Williams did not respond, citing privacy concerns.
"It's not a question I can answer here,” Williams said, with frustrated chatter picking up in the crowd. “Sorry, I would like to, but I can't.”
Williams did provide context for the terminations in a statement:
“Recently NES was approved for a FEMA SAFR grant. Under the grant, NES is provided the opportunity to hire another position for a Recruitment and Retention Coordinator,” the statement reads. “In addition, NES may now restructure as an equal opportunity employer for all medical / fire personnel and interested applicants. The NES Board is therefore temporarily restructuring to be in compliance with the grant and the Fair Labor Standards Act.”
NES will continue operating with a minimal crew through the restructuring process. Former chief Bear has agreed to remain with the crew until the transition can be made. They will be operating with four total EMT’s, three of whom have only basic life support certification.
NES has expressed concern about the crew’s ability to handle emergency call volume in the area. Anchor Point Fire and Emergency Response will offer assistance when they can.
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