May 5, 2005

What if?

by Chris Feeney

What if the editor answered all those letters? I donít reply very often, mostly because the letters are obviously for the readers and are just addressed to me so that the author can express their feelings to the public. I never want people to be afraid to express their opinion, wondering if the editor is going to tee off on their idea if he disagrees. But occasionally I feel the need to pen a response, and this is one of those instances.

As a taxpayer in the Scotland County Ambulance District I would like to say that I support the administrationís policy of requiring contracted payment for services provided by the ambulance district and its personnel.

The district is responsible to each and every one of us, meaning the ambulance must consider the impact its policies have on every resident of the county.

When the ambulance is on standby at a community gathering, especially one some distance away from its base in Memphis, it creates a conflict. Either the district has to pay a second crew to be on duty at the base, or it takes the risk of extending its response time to travel from the event site to answer the call. Either way, we the public take the hit. Either we have to pay for the extra crew, or we have to wait longer for the ambulance to travel to help us.

Iím sure the district would love to be able to afford twice as large a staff and two or three more ambulances, allowing it to have quicker response times and full coverage at community events.

However, unless we want to pay 20 times more in ambulance taxes, weíre going to have to make do with what we have. That means, if you have an emergency, you call 660-465-2131 and they will be there as quick as they can.

It seems unfair that any group or organization expects the ambulance to provide coverage for free. Everyone believes their cause is important, and all of us not-for-profit people must struggle to make ends meet to keep our gang going. But should all the rest of us have to pay higher taxes, or bigger fees to help offset free coverage for all of the good causes?

In my mind, all we can ask for is fair and equal treatment.

I mow my yard every Sunday. Itís a push mower and it can be dangerous. Should the ambulance have to have a full crew on standby in my driveway in case I get hurt?

Is it fair to the average taxpayer, who lives in the northeast corner of the county, if his ambulance is sitting in the southwest corner of the county at an event, and he has to wait twice as long for emergency medical attention?

Charging for special ambulance coverage is fair. Either pass that expense on to your members or wait on the ambulance like the rest of us. Thatís my opinion. Feel free to disagree with me if you like Ė my wife usually does.

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