Man collapses at meeting where residents questioned reduced emergency services

Residents were raising concerns about the firing of an Alaska fire chief and assistant chief when a man collapsed, prompting an EMS response


By Laura French

NINILCHIK, Alaska — A public meeting in an Alaska village where residents were voicing concerns about a reduction in emergency services was cut short last week when a man collapsed, prompting EMS to respond.

The meeting at Ninilchik town hall had grown contentious as attendees questioned Ninilchik Emergency Services (NES) officials over the firing of a fire chief and assistant fire chief, according to KTUU. One resident recorded the meeting on Facebook Live, saying, “A man just collapsed in the back of the building ... there's an emergency going on right now,” before the recording and the meeting ended.

A town hall meeting in the small Alaskan village of Ninilchik grew contentious last week as residents questioned the firing of the villages only two ALS-certified first responders. The meeting was cut short when one of the attendees suffered a medical emergency. (Photo/Jcbutler via Wikimedia Common)
A town hall meeting in the small Alaskan village of Ninilchik grew contentious last week as residents questioned the firing of the villages only two ALS-certified first responders. The meeting was cut short when one of the attendees suffered a medical emergency. (Photo/Jcbutler via Wikimedia Common)

NES did not release any information about the condition of the man and only said he was transported in an ambulance.

Prior to the medical emergency, residents were asking why Fire Chief David Bear and Assistant Chief Grace Huhndorf, the only ALS-certified NES responders, were terminated. NES Board President Darrel Williams said he would not be able to answer that question at the meeting.

The NES said in a statement that the agency is undergoing restructuring after being approved for a FEMA SAFR grant, which will allow them to hire a recruitment and retention coordinator. The former fire chief will remain on the crew during the transition period, during which he and three BLS-certified EMTs will be the agency’s only active staff.

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