Commissioners should consider all EMS options

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 29, 2005

A decision last week by the Lawrence County Commissioners has set off flashing lights and sirens in the minds of lots of residents.

The commissioners voted to consider bids for the county's ambulance service next year.

While we disagreed with the timing - announcing the bid process before actually specifying what the county needs - we applaud the county on considering all the options available.

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Too often, government gets mired in the "we've always done it that way" mentality. That habit can be costly - even deadly - to government and the taxpayers who support it.

Government must avoid getting caught up in emotional worries and concern.

In the ambulance debate, for instance, the current employees and administrators are attempting to stir the pot

- and thus stymie any option for change - by using an emotional spoon.

A number of representatives from the Southeast Ohio Emergency Medical Services have asked "why" the commission would even consider making such a change.

We think being frugal with taxpayer's money is only smart. Can another option for ambulance service provide the same or better quality of care and perhaps save money at the same time? That's the question at the crux of the issue.

What's the answer? Well, of course, officials with SEOEMS will say "absolutely not."

And they may be correct, but the county will not know until it studies the issue a bit.

SEOEMS employees are worried about their future employment. While we understand their concern, let's look at the issue logically.

If, by chance, a new company puts in a bid and its accepted by the commission, the new firm would almost certainly hire most, if not all, the existing paramedics and EMTs in the area. It would be highly unlikely that anyone would "import" new ambulance personnel.

So in our minds, the worry over the future employment of the current SEOEMS workers isn't logically much of an issue for concern.

The county should continue to pursue its options, although it should work up specifics quickly so everyone will understand what we need in an ambulance service.

In the end, what the county needs may be SEOEMS or it may be something totally different. But until we turn off the emotional strobe lights and silence the heartfelt sirens, we'll all find it difficult to communicate and understand what the county truly needs.