I recently read the Steamboat Springs City Council minutes and recommendation from the ICMA consulting services. Privatization of services? Volunteer staffing? Are you out of your mind? I work with these fantastic women and men every day, and they are not only dedicated to their jobs, they are dedicated to the community. They live in our community, pay taxes here, raise their children, volunteer with Routt County Search and Rescue, are ski patrollers and much more! They are not from an outside agency whose staff members come in, works their shift and head back home.
Face it, not many people can afford to live in Steamboat on the salary of just an EMT or paramedic. There is no guarantee that a private agency will actually require its staff to live here. The city could not afford to pay this agency if that was the requirement. Our firefighters are cross-trained as EMTs, so why would we take that away from them and pay a separate agency to do this?
Volunteers are great! I have been a volunteer EMT myself. However, the job that pays my bills, puts food on my table and clothes on my back takes my first priority. Finding volunteers who can make fire/EMS a priority are few and far between. They are not going to like the fact of no compensation for doing the same job as someone who is compensated. (Volunteers do not receive pay!) Then there is the huge issue of competence and training. Do you want someone arriving at your door who has not been on a call in six weeks versus someone who does this every day? These are skills that have to be used and kept current.
At one time, this agency did have volunteers, has the City Council researched the reason we no longer do? While they are looking at the budget numbers, look at the other services these men and women provide in our community as do their wives and families. How much will we really lose? Look at what we have, and then improve on it; don’t tear it apart! Personally, I do not think we can afford to lose these people or their skills, commitment and love for Steamboat.
Thank you, Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue, for all you do.
Laura Schrettner Corriveau