Runaway Train Continues...
At the end of my last post I warned you not to blink. The news this morning only affirms that admonition.
MICKADEIT QUOTES RIGHEIMER - PRIVATE PARAMEDICS
First, there is Orange County Register columnist Frank Mickadeit's piece this morning, HERE, in which he tells us of Jim Righeimer's plan to have Costa Mesa become the first city in Orange County to utilize PRIVATE paramedics - which effectively dramatically impacts the members of the Costa Mesa Firefighters Association. And, Mickadeit quotes Costa Mesa Firefighters Association President Tim Vasin as being unaware of this new issue - it was the first he'd heard of it.
IT'S ALREADY ON THE COUNCIL AGENDA
Then, almost simultaneously, I received the agenda for the next Costa Mesa City Council meeting on Tuesday, March 1, which contained this little entry under New Business:
There is no staff report attached to this item yet.
HOW DOES THIS AFFECT THE OCFA PROPOSAL?
This follows on the heels of the receipt of the proposal by the Orange County Fire Authority late last week which, it is my understanding, will be discussed at the council study session on Tuesday, March 8. Certainly, any serious consideration of the use of private paramedics will affect how that proposal is going to be viewed and, in fact, it may be a deal-breaker with the county.
FULL ASSESSMENT IS ESSENTIAL
Don't get me wrong. Having spent more than a little time going over the OCFA proposal and discussing it with folks knowledgeable about the intricacies of emergency services, I think some serious consideration should be given to the way we presently deliver those services. I don't have solutions, but there certainly are lots of questions that need to be asked.
DOES THIS MAKE SENSE?
For example, one of the weaknesses in our emergency response system is the fact that, in the case of medical aid that requires the transportation of the patient to a hospital, the paramedic from the fire truck accompanies the patient in the ambulance and the truck and remainder of the team follow along, putting them out of service. This certainly should be evaluated when considering all these new proposals.
RIGHEIMER'S CORE - DUMP UNION WORKERS
Of course, the core of Righeimer's plan is to remove as many union members as he can in whatever way he can. This plan for private paramedics is another "easy way out", which doesn't require negotiating with city union members.
BARBARA VENEZIA SIGNS IN...
Also, this morning, the irrepressible Register columnist, Barbara Venezia, takes on the issue of the probable lost of the ABLE helicopter program from the vantage point of a Newport Beach resident, HERE. She also throws into the mix the weakened position Costa Mesa will find itself in the annexation wars if it decides to shift to the OCFA. Her last paragraph says it all:
"Costa Mesa residents need to fully understand the long-term, real-life ramifications of what giving up control over fire and emergency services means to their city. This could very well be another cobblestone in that road of good intentions paved to hell."
As I said before, don't take your eyes off this Costa Mesa City Council. They're taking a page from Barack Obama's playbook and moving at light speed to re-structure Costa Mesa before the residents wake up and see what they're doing. DO NOT BLINK!