2013-11-02 / Editorials & Letters

Last chance for Patients First care!

Buckeye Lake Village voters have a rare opportunity! In a nation of seemingly overwhelming problems, Buckeye Lake voters can actually fix something. You can’t do much about the trillions in debt this country has racked up, the poor economy, the lack of jobs or the Obamacare train wreck, but you can fix our local EMS.

Protecting the health and safety of residents is one of local government’s most basic and critical responsibilities. Buckeye Lake Village’s EMS services have been broken for years. The Beacon has been documenting the problems for nearly 15 months (441 days).

This isn’t about supporting or saving the fire department. It’s about making sure you and your loved ones get the emergency medical services that you have been paying for and deserve. That means what’s best for the patient must come first – Patients First!

Mayor Rick Baker and village council members could and should have fixed this problem a year ago. Here’s where we are nearly 15 months later:

• The fire chief and top officers responsible for our broken EMS system are still in charge;

• Part-time PAID EMT’s still arrive late and leave early for some scheduled shifts, leaving a crew short-handed or no one on duty;

• Paramedic coverage is still spotty, meaning advanced life support treatment is often not available for the most critically ill or injured;

• The department is still focused on saving runs for Buckeye Lake, not saving lives. Crews tied up on runs wait too long before requesting mutual aid for a second run. Short-handed crews wait too long on the scene for someone to show up rather than requesting a transport-ready mutual aid crew.

• A small clique runs the department, making up the rules as they go along. Anyone questioning their actions is harassed and/or threatened.

• There is very little discipline, responsibility for actions or accountability.

• The crew that watched an Anchors Way resident writhe in pain and gasp for breath during a 38-minute wait to transport in May could show up at your house tonight. It’s apparently OK to snicker and do nothing while a critically ill patient suffers. It’s also apparently OK to falsify a report to make it look like you gave some aid when none was given.

If this is the department you want to support or give more time to get its act together, then vote ‘yes’ to renew the levy. Should voters renew the levy, this is the department you are going to get for five long years. The only thing that gets their attention is losing money and control. Guarantee their money for five years and the very modest improvements soon disappear. The 441 days we’ve been waiting for Patients First care become 2,266 days!

The odds are pretty good that you or a loved one will need emergency medical services in the next five years. Who do you want answering your call for help – the Anchors Way crew or a paramedic-led, transport-ready crew from the Hebron Fire Department?

Sometimes we have to accept substandard service because we can’t afford anything better. That’s NOT the case here! Hebron’s proposal from last April to immediately respond with a full crew to every EMS and fire call from Buckeye Lake Village costs about half what you are paying for our own dysfunctional service. Is the pride of having Buckeye Lake painted on the squad worth TWICE the price AND gambling that you won’t get the Anchors Way crew?

To get the Patients First care you deserve, we must first change the department’s culture. That means cleaning house. Baker and council members had their chance and passed. Mayoral candidates Clay Carroll and Jeryne Peterson won’t do it. The quickest and easiest way to clean house is to contract with Hebron for at least a year. You’ll get excellent Patients First care at half the price!

Peterson’s comment last week that rejecting the levy means ‘no money to even purchase a pencil’ is patently false. As Finance Committee chair she should know better. Buckeye Lake’s Fire Fund cash balance was $211,055 as of 9/30/13. Expenses for October, November and December should be well under $75,000, leaving more than enough for the $111,000 contract with Hebron in 2014 and to maintain the fire station and equipment.

Your votes will determine whether we reward the Anchors Way crew or finally provide Patients First care to residents and visitors. It’s your last chance for five long years!

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