Alaska’s Code Blue Steering Committee response to vetoes

The final round of vetoes by the Governor also included one that gets little mention in the main news articles but has a huge impact on rural Emergency Medical Services (EMS). He vetoed the funding for the Code Blue Project, which has been a rock-solid grant program in the state for 19 straight years and supported strongly by both the House and Senate. There are very few communities in the state that haven’t benefited from Code Blue during that time period.

The Code Blue (CB) Project began in the late 1990’s as aging or non-existent emergency medical equipment and transportation needs became acute. The $500,000 provided annually by the State was used as ‘seed’ money for other grants, loans and local matches in order to purchase essential EMS equipment across the state. The application eligibility determination and award process’ are one of the most stringent in the state in order to guarantee that grant awards are given based on NEED not WANT regardless of the legislative district or political leanings. 

During its 19 years of existence, the state contributed $7,757,000, the USDA $8,830,000, the Denali Commission $1,561,000, the Rasmuson Foundation $1,226,000 which was combined with local community matches of $4,873,000 to provide a total of $27,795,321 of EMS patient care, training, transportation and communication equipment. The state funds comprised roughly 25% of the total dollars contributed to the project.

With the vetoing of the ‘seed’ money, the CB program will come to a halt and with the cost of an average ambulance, delivered to the bush, being nearly $180,000 each and the cardiac monitor/defibrillators costing $35,000, this will be devastating to rural EMS services-many without a tax base. 

Four late 1990’s model ambulances across the state were approved for replacement in 2020 with a plan to utilize the ‘capped’ state CB dollars for each of $55,000 as match money in order to seek other funding partners to complete the unmet need. Now, that option no longer exists. 

Gov. Dunleavy used the following phrase “budget changes are not meant to harm Alaska or Alaskans” in his video statement but in this case, it not only harms Alaskan residents but the millions of visitors to the state who expect and depend on EMS in their communities. Without the funding this year alone, 19 rural communities in the Interior Region (Fairbanks area), 8 in the North Slope region, 17 in Norton Sound region, 14 in the Southern Region (Anchorage area), 6 in the Southeast region and 17 in the Yukon Kuskokwim region will not be able to add to or replace their capital equipment needs. How is this NOT going to harm Alaska?

Bobbi Leichty, Sitka, AK

Our Land

Dear Reader,

What can we do to correct terrible wrongs done to Alaska Natives. Most important is to make federal courts give back all Alaska lands back to Alaskans. All lands in Alaska rightfully and legally belong to Alaska’s first people. U.S. Courts will find that Congress lied that all Alaska natives disclaim all Alaska lands. Federal law requires all 30,000 plus disclaimers must be in writing and signed by each person who disclaims.

Jesse Foster, Quinhagak, AK

A better way

I wrote this for my kids. I wrote it to let them know I miss them and my nieces and nephews. I want you to learn but in a better way. Humble yourselves and learn all you can. Give everything your all to the best of your ability. Accept the outcome whether it’s good or bad.

Believe in yourself and you can succeed. Practice makes perfect and repetition leads to success. Learn from your problems because they teach you something you need to know. Enjoy what you have and be glad that you were given the chance to live and be creative. We have the power to change so why not make it your destiny to be something great or even better.

Simon Felix
Anchorage Correctional Complex, Anchorage, AK

Murkowski Comments on Hilcorp Acquisition of BP’s Alaska Assets

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today (August 27th, 2019) issued the following statement after Hilcorp announced it has reached agreement to acquire substantially all of BP’s assets and interests in Alaska. Murkowski is Alaska’s senior Senator and Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

We thank BP for its long-standing partnership on resource production in our state and for the many significant and lasting philanthropic contributions it has made in our communities,” Murkowski said. “I’m looking forward to learning more details and am encouraged that an enterprising company like Hilcorp sees so much opportunity in Alaska and is willing to make such significant investments in one of the most prolific and under-explored basins in the world. Hilcorp has a strong record of hiring Alaskans and I hope they will continue and strengthen our record of responsible production on the North Slope.

Hilcorp is one of the largest privately held oil and gas exploration and production companies in the world. BP is a major multinational oil and gas company headquartered in London. Hilcorp has produced oil and gas in the Cook Inlet of Alaska since 2012 and acquired significant North Slope assets from BP in 2014. 

Senator Lisa Murkowski, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C.