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Commentary: The Fire Department was up front about its ambulance proposal

During recent Costa Mesa City Council debates about Fire Department ambulance transportation, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer claimed that it was not the intent of the Fire Department reorganization plan to provide ambulance transportation for the community. He called it “revisionist history” to say that it was.

He went on to say that if he had known this was the intent, he would have never voted for it. Based on these statements, one might be left with the impression that city staff members deceived Mr. Righeimer by not being straightforward about the ambulance transportation component. Nothing could be further from the truth.

On May 7, 2013, the City Council unanimously voted to reorganize the CMFD. The documents that were adopted have references to Fire Department ambulance transportation throughout, and even some suggestions on how to use the revenue that would be generated as the result of providing ambulance transport.

The adopted documents included the following text:

• “Direct staff to obtain the necessary information and conduct appropriate studies concerning ambulance transportation then agendize for City Council consideration in the future”;

• “Paramedics would provide all emergency medical transportation to the hospital”;

• "… the provision of transportation by city paramedics will provide a new revenue stream that can be utilized to fund capital projects (i.e. replacing and restoring aged fire stations), equipment purchases and pay down the Fire Side Fund.

It is clear that Fire Department ambulance transportation was an option to be considered. It’s hard to understand how Mayor Pro Tem Righeimer can say otherwise.

City staff has worked diligently to make sure that the council was informed and educated concerning all aspects of the plan, including the ambulance transportation component.

To even hint that there may have been any wrongdoing on the part of the staff is unfair and clearly not supported by the facts.

TOM ARNOLD is a former interim fire chief of the Costa Mesa Fire Department. He is a Costa Mesa resident.


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