After reading your article (Jan. 21) on pay for firefighters, I feel compelled to write to you. Many people who read the article will only remember the fact that Los Angeles County Firefighter Reynoldo Wilson earned close to $100,000 last year. The pertinent issue is not the salary that Wilson earned, but rather, how much time this paramedic spent working in order to earn this sum of money for the year. Although many feel overtime comes with being a firefighter, I contend that Fire Department supervision has a responsibility to its employees to distribute overtime equally.
In working as a volunteer in a hospital emergency room for only two weeks I was exposed to some unpleasant medical traumas that are still very vivid in my mind. I also had verbal communication with several paramedics in the emergency room and in an emergency medical technician course. I have come to the conclusion that being a paramedic is not only one of the most stressful occupations but it is also an occupation that produces "burn-out" syndrome much sooner than other professions.
Each day paramedics and firefighters are exposed to a side of life that the ordinary public does not have to see on a day-to-day basis. Firefighter Wilson's efforts to take the overtime that his associates did not want is truly commendable but, if Fire Department supervision continues to let Wilson work at this pace, the county is sure to lose a true professional earlier than necessary.
ROY M. ELLISON