Letters to the Editor, August 24

Marco Eagle

Are rules made to be broken?

In [Monday’s] City Council Meeting there was an issue discussed regarding a vote on candidates for city manager or interim presented by someone representing the Florida League of Cities.

During council discussion one of the councilors suggested that a vote couldn't be held utilizing previously submitted choices by the two councilors who were not in attendance; the city attorney subsequently reiterated that since council had already discussed and agreed, then then could proceed.

Editorial cartoon

During public comment, Bill McMullan pointed out that Florida Law prohibited votes by councilors who were not actually in their chairs; he referenced a previous councilor who wasn't even allowed to participate by phone.

Since I am the former councilor to whom Mr. McMullan referred, I'd like to clarify how wrong both council and the city attorney are on this issue. Our former city attorney (and current county commissioner) Burt Saunders opined during my tenure and council agreed that councilors could participate telephonically; subsequently when Mr. Gabriel became city attorney the question was once again raised and he and his firm emphatically pointed to the Florida Attorney General's ruling that while volunteer boards might be able to participate remotely, city councilors could not. Subsequently, I was no longer allowed to phone-in.

This is not the first time I have taken this council to task for flaunting rules and having the city attorney stand by their actions. I won't get into the details of the absurdity that followed in discussing possible managerial candidates, but I can't sit idly by while this council simply works on 'rules of convenience'.

Larry Sacher, Marco Island

Practicality versus politics

This letter is to those who will be voting by Tuesday, Aug. 28 on Marco Island’s ambition to stop Collier County’s ambulance service and start up a city-owned ambulance service. Please consider the following when deciding if now is the most intelligent time for Marco Island to start, train and operate an emergency ambulance/medical service and add it to Chief Murphy’s fire department, regardless of how much the Chief may want it:

Marco Island’s Fire Department had to call for help from the Greater Naples and Naples fire departments when they responded to a recent dry-cleaning store fire. It’s not unreasonable, then, to question their readiness for added ambulance responsibilities.

Marco Island’s Police Department has recently shown serious internal disciplinary issues. Corrective action is a work in progress.

Marco Island City Council is remiss in providing a professional city manager as required by our city charter for eight months now and still just “discussing.”

When filling out your ballot, please ask yourself if this is a practical time to add emergency ambulance/medical duties and responsibilities to a disorganized, indecisive Marco Island administration. Keeping our decades of proven Collier County emergency ambulance service at least until Marco becomes more experienced, more responsible and more capable is a no brainer.  Now, obviously, isn’t that time. Please give serious thought to the safer, and practical, vote of “no.”  Thanks!

Russ Colombo, Marco Island

Marco doesn’t need to start costly ambulance service

Our city, our ambulance, our foolishness! Why is it that some Marco Island citizens think that we can do as well or better than the award-winning Collier County Emergency Medical Services, the medical director of which is widely recognized as tops in the field? We have trouble enough staffing for our present management needs as it is.

And even if we could, why put all that money, effort, time and distraction to become good at something that’s already in place with notable success? If we want a higher level of service than much of Florida enjoys, we can procure this added increment of service at an additional and reasonable cost from our current provider. Collier County EMS operates at a much higher and wider economy of scale and can handily augment, reassign, equip and position assets and trained personnel to do so.

We just don’t need to further burden our staff with that unnecessary, feel-good status symbol and another reinvention of the wheel. And we certainly don’t need to spend millions learning how.

I say vote “no” on ambulance services.

Heyward E. Boyce, Marco Island

Bureaucracy on Marco

Bureaucracy! If you hate it in Washington D.C. and call it the “swamp,” then, get ready – you are witnessing it here in “Marco Island!” 

What problem are we trying to solve by acquiring a Marco Island ‘owned’ ambulance service?

Today, the Marco Island Fire Rescue Department in partnership with Collier County EMS provides advanced life support and emergency medical services at award-wining levels. Additionally, 95% of respondents to customer service surveys, classify the Marco Island service as ‘excellent.’

Do the math. Does $100 tax assessment per $500,000 property valuation cover the costs associated with maintaining the skills and the equipment necessary to offer the proposed Marco Island owned Ambulance equipment and EMS skills?  The COPCN application/proposal is to purchase three ambulance transport vehicles (fully stocked with medication and ancillary equipment), 36 to 54 dual-trained EMT and paramedics crew (hiring 12 incremental paramedic-firefighters starting October 2018), and engaging a medical director to administer, train, and oversee the Marco Island EMS services.  Additionally, Marco will have to indemnify, litigate and pay lawsuits associated with our Marco ‘owned’ services.

We must rise above the bureaucracy (and resist acting like swamp creatures)!

Consider voting no.

Carita Paret and Nanette Rivera, Marco Island

It’s about working together

Dr. Tober recently discussed issues facing EMS and Marco Island. With the shared dedication of emergency personnel in mind, I would like to expand on a few points.

The County has 26 ambulances in service. With a Marco COPCN, and the negotiated interlocal agreement between Marco Fire Department and the county, Marco will add three needed ambulances to the system for a total of 29 ambulances.

BLS: CPR-trained Marco police officers are often first on scene. The county doesn’t include their response time in data showing Marco BLS response is "nearly 50 percent longer than the recommended standard," even though the officers are recognized by the county with the prestigious Phoenix Award each time they save a life.

Marco personnel are rotated off the ambulance during a busy 48-hour shift. During season, it’s common practice for county paramedics to be mandated to work 48 hours. This can mean 48 consecutive hours awake or with minimal sleep while serving as the lead paramedic on a CCEMS ambulance unit.

The latest data released by the County EMA board shows that Marco units arrived on scene within eight minutes 95 percent of the time. County units on Marco met that goal 85 percent of the time. Of the approximately 2000 medical calls on Marco for that period, 300 calls did not meet the standard for CCEMS. What was the impact of the delay on those 300 patients? Does the QA process track the medications given and patient outcomes for them?

Pursuing a COPCN isn’t about disparaging the hard work of County medics. It’s about working together to deliver more responsive care to Marco residents.

Andrea Leiner, ER RN/Paramedic