In Tuesday’s Roundup, the CEO of Lifestar Ambulance accused me of being misinformed when I offered a comment about the way the fire department responds to medical emergencies. If I am misinformed, it is because I got my information directly from quotes attributed to Fire Chief deMasi in two stories in the Payson Roundup.
Highlights of the Aug. 24 story reported by Ms. Bechman of the Payson Roundup: “The fire department responded to 282 calls in July, 3 percent were for fires, the rest medical.” Average six calls per day for medical response, 72 percent of all fire department calls are for medical response in a normal month.
“deMasi wants to hire 15 more firemen. Annual budget is $2.4 million.”
Sept. 3: Chief deMasi is quoted by Mr. Aleshire of the Payson Roundup: “The overwhelming majority of fire department calls involve medical emergencies — ranging from minor to lifesaving. Payson’s emergency system relies on a paramedic staffed fire truck as the first line of defense, with private ambulances arriving later to provide backup and transport to the hospital.”
I am encouraged by the fact that Lifestar employees are trained paramedics as reported by CEO Smith; I feel much safer now. However, one must admit that the chief’s words, describing the duties of the ambulance staff as, “arriving later to provide backup and transport” do not instill confidence in their ability. This does not sound like a first response outfit.
My question remains: “Why do we send fire crews to ambulance calls?”
The new station will cost $1.5 million to complete and an additional $1 million per year to operate. The Sept. 3 article in the Roundup quotes Mayor Evans as saying the fire department currently costs $2.8 million annually ... up $400,000 from Chief deMasi’s estimate reported on Aug. 24. This is serious money for a small town.
Police and fire protection in Payson eats up 60 percent of the budget right now. I question if all this protection is really necessary.
Mr. Smith, I’m not here to gore your ox, I would much rather see a trained medical team show up at my home if I am suffering from a medical emergency, than a truckload of firefighters. These are two different professions and should be treated as such.