Hooray For Lynn Carpenter
I received this e-mail recently from Lynn Carpenter regarding our local fire department. Ms. Carpenter has been instrumental in keeping Whatcom County Taxpayers informed on the Bellingham Fire Department's frivolous spending of our tax dollars. The subject of this e-mail is "Taxpayers: Pat Yourselves on the Back"
It is my opinion that we owe Lynn Carpenter not only a pat on the back, but a standing ovation for her tireless and vital work.
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The Bellingham Fire Department has announced that they have decided to send the appropriate medical response to 9 1 1 calls. (see attached) For thirty one years Bellingham and Whatcom County taxpayers have been paying to send fire trucks and paramedics to every call. Dispatcher are told to send the same entire emergency medical team to a call from an elderly person with chest pains as to someone with a broken leg. For years Bellingham Fire Department consultants have been telling them that this kind of overkill was very expensive and very unnecessary. Makes you wonder if anyone has read the consultant's reports or, if they were read, why the recommendations were ignored. Millions and millions of tax dollars have been spent unnecessarily. These changes were not made because professionals have told them it was unnecessary. These changes were not made because the Bellingham Fire Department suddenly became concerned with the cost of EMS services. These changes came about because Bellingham and Whatcom County taxpayers refused to give them more money. If you had voted for a new tax, Bellingham's fire department would be running exactly the way they have always done it. For thirty one years we have been overcharged. So, this is just the beginning. Nationwide 9 1 1 calls requiring the services of paramedics for "advanced life support" is about 30% of the calls. After this major change in Whatcom Medic One, they intend to reduce the "advanced life support" call load from 100% to 70%. Fire department officials are saying they will continue to work on reducing the advance life support but they find it difficult to determine how to respond with the appropriate response. EMS systems all over the United States have figured it out, but the Bellingham Fire Department is still thinking about it. Now that they have reduced the advance life support calls to 70%, they think they deserve a tax increase. It may be in the form of a sales tax increase, a property tax increase, or Bellingham taxpayers may just find it added to their water and sewer bills soon. It's not time for a tax increase. They have only begun to make the necessary changes to make the EMS system cost effective. Their consultant has shown them how to save millions of dollars every year, but city officials have absolutely refused to change they way they do business. Whatcom County and Bellingham taxpayers will have to say no again and again and again until there is real change. There are 17 fire districts and two fire departments in the county. This is just not efficient or cost effective. It is time to overhaul the entire system. Don't get me wrong. This is a good beginning, but it is only a beginning. It's like asking your teenager to mow the lawn. Getting the lawn mower out is a good start, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Congratulations to Whatcom County and Bellingham taxpayers for saying no to new taxes. Until the Bellingham Fire Department gets serious with cost containment, there should be no more taxes. If they get more money, all discussion of cost containment will stop. There is no incentive for the Bellingham Fire Department or any other department in the city to look for cost saving measures and efficiencies if they have plenty of money. Perhaps we should be asking the County Executive to go out to bid for Emergency Medical Services. Let's allow the Bellingham Fire Department to compete for our business. If we do that, changes would come quickly. Until then, we need to show them TOUGH LOVE.
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The way Bellingham has been dealing with 911 calls is so extremely wasteful, it borders on the absurd. If my toilet breaks, I call a plumber. Not a plumber, an electrician, a painter, and someone to walk my dog.
If I have a heart attack, I'm pretty sure that no amount of water a fire truck can spray on me is going to help.
Cross posted at Patty-Jo