New fire district PIO responds to concerns

Erich Knudson, newly appointed public information officer for Central Oregon Coast Fire & Rescue, is pictured at the fire station in Waldport. (Photo by Cheri Brubaker)

WALDPORT — Central Oregon Coast Fire & Rescue District (COCFRD) recently named volunteer emergency medical responder Erich Knudson its public information officer.

In his first press release, Knudson confirmed that Dr. Joshua Cook resigned as the fire district’s medical director effective Oct. 1.

For almost two years, Cook served as the volunteer medical director of COCFRD. Dr. Erling Osksenholt will replace Cook in that role.

"For a number of reasons that I have disclosed to the board, I choose to no longer support the EMS leadership,” said Cook, referring specifically to Fire Chief Gary Woodson.

When asked what those reasons are, Cook said, “It is not in my purview to disclose the ongoing discussions that I have had with the board and EMS leadership.”

A media request for Cook’s resignation letter, as well as documentation regarding issues Cook discussed with the board, specifically concerns regarding safety, training and protocol, was sent to COCFRD Tuesday morning.

Waldport resident Kathryn Menefee has been a vocal critic of the department, particularly in the areas of staff training and protocol. She is also concerned about plans to relocate the department to a location within the tsunami zone when the department must move in 2021.

Knudson maintains that the department has been addressing Menefee's concerns with ongoing staff training.

The location of the new fire department is limited to land available for sale that will meet distance and response time requirements, Knudson explained. He said that the board meetings are open to the public, and that the fire district carries out its duties in a transparent manner.



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