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Monday, October 25, 2010

Does Not Play Well With Others

One of the major reasons that I became a paramedic is that I love helping people. I'm good at it. I don't fluster easily in emergency situations. One of the reasons I became a firefighter is I love to help people. Shocking huh?! I take my position as a civil servant very seriously. As a medic I am a staunch patient advocate. As a firefighter, I try to do what is best for the citizen that I am serving.

I was once naive enough to think that that was the way all fire departments work. It's been a while since I thought this way but I still get angry when I see the way some cities/departments provide emergency care.

Let me give you an example of what I think is a better way of doing things (maybe not the best but better). I grew up in Southern California. There are many largish fire departments (between 6 and 10 stations each) in the area that I called home. These departments all started using one dispatch center, reducing response times because you don't have to transfer the call to another dispatch center.

Another way they improved service was to drop all borders. Each unit has a GPS tracker. When a call comes in the computer tells the dispatcher which is the closest unit to the call, regardless of the jurisdiction. The cities and fire departments (and I would think PD as well but I'm not sure) mutually decided that getting help to the citizen in need was of more importance than who provided the help.

We'd love to help you but you're on the wrong side of the dotted line on the map.

This is not always the case. There are several departments with which we share borders. For various reasons (in some cases noses of some politicians have been bent out of shape, another case, the members of the FD act as if they are better than us) these smaller departments feel that they do not need to have the closest unit respond to an emergency instead electing to have their own unit respond.

In one of the cities my department has a station within their city limits. Yet, if the person that lives next door to our station calls 911, he will have the engine from almost 2 miles away respond. The captain on that engine may or may not request that we be dispatched since we're closer.

One day, while working overtime at that station, we had one of the residents from a half block down stop by with his son for a station visit. The dad was telling his son that if they had an emergency we would come help. I stopped him and explained that we would probably not get dispatched to the call even though we are the closest unit.

It's frustrating and childish to me. I would love to be able to sit the people in charge down and ask them if they think they are really trying to provide better care to the people. Stop getting into pissing contests like you're 13 and start doing what's right for your communities.

Progress is coming but it's slow.


kipspop said...

I saw it happen while in my teens between Burbank and Los Angeles. Head on collision on Forest Lawn Drive and Burbank and Los Angeles argued over the "dotted line". By the time help arrived (about 30 minutes) one of the victims was dead and another died on the way to the hospital.

Cristina said...

Similar issues arise in education when doing border alignments for schools and districts. Often times, districts will want to realign borders to equalize population growth thus stabilizing resources, whereas parents want to realign boundaries to keep certain population demographics out and others in. It's an ugly truth that parents don't want to 'fess up to, but it's true.

At the end of the day, it would be nice if people just did the right thing for people and not what they think is best for themselves.

Divemedic said...

On the flip side: I live in a city, where we pay higher taxes than people in the unincorporated county, presumably so that we can receive better (or at least better funded) services.

I would be upset to find that a person who lived in the county was tying up resources that I pay extra for, thus making that resource unavailable when I need it.

Firefighter/Paramedic said...

Divemedic- I completely agree with you there. I was only talking about an automatic aid agreement between 2 cities where the call volume would be a wash for either department.

Anonymous said...

good stuff

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