Speak Out

October 23, 2005

THE ISSUE: -- Harford County is preparing to hire paid, part-time emergency medical responders to supplement its long-standing volunteer force, out of concern that volunteer fire support services are being stretched too thin in a growing county. County Executive David R. Craig stressed that Harford would retain a predominantly volunteer fire and EMT service. But a transition over the next decade toward more part-time, paid workers is necessary, he said. Should Harford County move toward all-professional fire and emergency medical services? Tell us what you think.

Don't hire staff; educate public

As a volunteer EMT in Harford County (as well as a dispatcher with a Harford County municipality), I see firsthand the struggle for volunteer companies to keep up with the demand for service. As call numbers increase, availability of certified personnel dwindles as more providers start to burn out.

Answering call after call that hardly requires a taxicab, let alone an ambulance, really makes you stop and think before answering the page: "Is this something that really requires taking time from my family and my life?" It is unfortunate that the question even crosses one's mind, but more and more it does.

I feel the education of the public as to what merits an ambulance/police/fire response would better benefit the emergency services of this county than would paid responses. Personally I would like to see an optional supplement of certified personnel on a station-to-station, as-needed basis, but I don't believe that implementation of a countywide paid system would better serve the public. Our volunteers do an outstanding job.

Todd Michael Lynch Havre de Grace

We want your opinions

ISSUE:

Havre de Grace has experienced significant growth in recent years, and several large-scale projects are coming soon. City Councilman Wayne Dougherty has expressed concerns that the city's services could be strained by the influx of development and suggested the city institute a six-month moratorium on new building. His idea comes as the county in general prepares for an unprecedented influx of jobs over the next two to six years as part of a nationwide military base consolidation plan.

YOUR VIEW:

Should the county as a whole consider Dougherty's moratorium idea before embarking on development projects to accommodate new military and high-tech jobs in addition to already-planned development? Tell us what you think. Send e-mail responses by Thursday to harford.speakout@balt sun.com. A selection of responses will be published next Sunday. Please keep your responses short and include your name, address and telephone number. Addresses and phone numbers will not be published.

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