Guest commentary: Marco Island's quest for COPCN

Bob Brown
Guest columnist

There is much being written and being said about this important subject. It is imperative that the residents on Marco Island understand the full concept of our quest to have our own license to transport (COPCN). 

This is not a new idea, nor is it a retaliatory strike against our county. The difficulty is our county has failed to meet the needs or requests to better our service. So what indeed has caused many people to decide that pursuing our COPCN was the wise course of action? 

Bob Brown

Going back a number of years we had repeatedly asked for a second ambulance on the island. Back in 1976 they gave us one and as late as the 2010's they still left us with one. Not until then city councilor Amadeo Petricca and our fire chief went to the county manager and debated the issue for a long period of time did they agree to give us a second ambulance during the few months in season for 12 hours daily and it is still inadequate. 

In addition, it is clear that Collier County is looking to make changes in the future. They have placed two ballot questions on fire and EMS consolidation. Their simple straw vote asked voters whether they would like to consolidate and save money or stay the same and pay more. I wonder which way you all would answer such a question? Marco Island must ask our voters to approve a millage rate on Aug. 28 that equates to approximately $100 on a property with a taxable value of $500,000.

Why do this? Once again, look at a future consolidation and see what would happen to our current .60 millage rate if the county takes over. Would we then pay what Isles of Capri, Everglades City, or Fiddlers Creek? Note all of those areas pay over two to six times what we pay for our fire and now this $100 that will provide EMS may look very attractive. 

This also does not address that Marco Island would have no representation on such a consolidated board. They can easily raise our rates; limit our ambulances by having total control of everything done on Marco Island. They can eliminate the ALS (Advanced Life Support) capabilities of our Firefighter/Paramedics which as seen in some areas. And, I believe most on Marco Island would want to be treated by those that know us best, our great Fire/Rescue Team! 

Another key element is having Dr. Tober making all decisions for what medications can be carried on our vehicles. He recently eliminated 14 key drugs saying it wasn't necessary for them to be carried as a County EMS unit is generally is not far away. Worse than that our firemen/paramedic teams arriving on scene are not allowed to treat anyone until a county unit arrives (again a new rule putting our residents at risk). Ask the person having a grand mal seizure at our farmers market who had to wait for medication because we no longer can carry it or administer it. I would hope that would not be your loved one. 

During Hurricane Irma the County took our only ambulance off island to Physician's Regional even though we guaranteed a safe place for it and the county employees. It was then needed for an emergency but was over 20 minutes away and we were reprimanded for transporting a patient to the hospital during this emergency. 

Our fire/rescue team that has served us for 53 years! We must make sure our paramedics have the drugs and equipment they need, the City have local control of our tax dollars and a medical director responsive to the Marco community.