Soon Be Burning

By Jonathan Frank, Local 790

Almost four years and the EMS OP is still unraveling. The prospect of privatization of transport is only one step away, and is held off, mostly by the reality that it may soon not be lucrative; the companies may not be interested! That revolting development would lead to yet another. The City (presumably SFFD) ambulances handling the areas dominated by the poor and indigent, like downtown and the Mission and the privates (yes it’s a dirty word) carving up the neighborhoods that have insurance.

OK, so the folks running EMS didn’t know what they were doing. Shouldn’t they have started getting things onto an even keel by now, after almost four years?

I mean let’s turn the thing around. What if by some strange twist of fate I was to be put in charge of a large fire suppression operation all of a sudden? How would I proceed? How would the place look after three and a half years?

One of the fundamental differences between fire suppression and EMS work is revealed in the various possible scenarios this elicits. This “merger” commenced with massive reinvention of a trade that had evolved since the Civil War! The operation has been dismantled, dissected, destabilized and, continues to be disabled on a daily basis! But the effects are not immediately obvious to the casual observer (though many’s the citizen who has asked, “how come there are sirens almost continuously?”). No, as long as those in high places are committed to maintaining course and, we don’t leave bodies on the pavement for Sunset Scavenger, few feel or see the effects of the debacle.

If one were to proceed to reinvent fire suppression in a manner similar to the way the FD has operated the EMS, the whole City would soon be in ashes!

So what would I do if I woke up as CD-One tomorrow morning? Yeah I’d defecate-a-brick, but would I proclaim that the whole operation was henceforth going to operate as an EMS? Would I put all the apparatus on street corners and attempt to dynamically deploy them? Would I proclaim that “responding” to alarms was as important as knowing how to handle them, and therefore reorganize the department into crews of two (suppression ambulances) in order to get to fires sooner? Would I make certain that any firefighter that didn’t crosstrain as a medic could kiss promotion, further training and retirement goodbye? Would I put a paramedic who had no fire service experience at the head of my team?

If I did, my own house would soon be burning.


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