Remote reservation fills critical gap in Malheur County rescue net

Two paramedics and an advanced paramedic stand with one of Fort McDermitt Tribe EMS Rescue's two ambulances. (Photo courtesy Fort McDermitt EMS)

McDERMITT - For the better part of four years, whenever residents of the Fort McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone Reservation in the southern part of Malheur County needed emergency medical service, the ambulance would arrive from Winnemuca – about 74 miles away.

“I think I got Covid back in January,” said Ron Eagleye Johnny, a member and former chairman of the tribe. “I couldn’t breathe. And when the ambulance came for me, it billed me about $10,000.”

But costs have gone down dramatically since June 2020, when Johnny inaugurated the Fort McDermitt Tribe EMS Rescue, based out of the reservation. The service is government-funded and not-for-profit, and doesn’t discriminate between native and . . .