Monday, March 8

Sitting by the phone waiting for a call...

If I don't spew this out now my health will be at risk, so please excuse the sarcastic and grumpy rant...

For the third time in three months all of the squads in our dispatch area have been asked to keep a full crew at the station for several hours. These squads are composed of volunteers with jobs. Why is this needed? Because the county knows they are going to have to shut the radio system down for repairs and have no backup. Today from 1200 to 1700 (they hope it will only last this long), and for a similar amount of time tomorrow, calls to 911 will be dispatched by telephone. That's right - By phone! No beeping pagers, no radio communication with dispatch from the rig, etc.

If our second rig is needed this afternoon it could well be a LONG time before people get out as we won't be able to keep two crews at the station.

These planned outages are to try and maintain a radio system that is over 30 years old and in horrible condition. A new system is something the police, fire and EMS people have been asking for for more than 10 years. Even when it works there are dead spots all over the county (can you imagine being a police officer and having to use a PHONE to ask for backup?). We are not asking for fancy new turn-out gear, or a generator for our station so we can have heat and lights when the power goes out (which it does at least once a winter), but instead we are asking to have the equipment we need to safely and efficiently do the VOLUNTEER job we signed up to do. Someday the system is going to go down unscheduled and this is going to cost someone their life (or alternatively, it will be down in a planned manner but EMS personnel will end up on a scene where they need police presence and can't get it due to lack of radio communications).

My county is, based on median family income, one of the poorest in the state. I don't see a new system happening anytime soon without state or federal help. Should your tax dollars go to pay for a radio system in my county? While I certainly understand why you may say no to this question ( *I* may even say no to this question), the result is that our country is destined to have the quality of EMS available to our citizens be a function of where you are and how much money the people there make (keep in mind we provide EMS to people traveling through our area so it could be YOUR husband, wife or children that do not get a response when the radio system craps out).

No doubt that wherever you live you roll the dice when you call 911 (how busy is it? what are the traffic patterns now? who is on call? etc.). I do hope, though, that when you call 911 the providers can know you called, be able to respond, and have access to needed resources (by radio!) when required.

Lastly, what KILLS me is that I live in one of the most highly taxed states in the U.S.! I sure as #$!! hope that they are spending all of that money wisely.

I feel better now - Thanks :-)