It’s hard to believe that in 2013 I wrote about the decline of the Prince George’s County Volunteers and how that decline continues today. I guess no one heeded the “Call to Action.” The factors related to the decline are hard to untangle because I do not know which came first, the decline of the Volunteers or the forces of societal neglect of its valuable resources. Maybe its due to the society we live in today that has lost confidence in the volunteer or combination system? Is that the correct assessment? Maybe the schemes of those who benefit from the decline (not the public) have finally lulled an overburdened public to sleep to the need for higher taxes and diminished service to their own demise.

Like the issue of clean drinking water, we will find ourselves wondering in the future how did we allow things to become so unsafe.  Who will be the one to blame for the decline in Public Safety? Who will be the blame for the lack of a progressive public education system which was before offered by volunteer corporations to thousands of people every year in Prince George’s County. Education you cannot get from public institutions no less. No hands on training for citizens exists outside of the private institutions which only offers it to members unless you pay for it. Soon the Federal and State Government will offer more training and education dollars to the citizens of Prince George’s County. Eventually, the County citizens will not have equal access to Federal and State dollars like all other Counties in Maryland. Like the District of Columbia, that has no public institution that can offer to its citizens quality, progressive, advanced education in the Fire Service, Emergency Medical Services or Fire Science, because of the lack of the private institutions previously providing training. Soon Prince George’s County citizens like those in the District will have no chance of getting the jobs in the Fire/EMS Service in their own jurisdiction because elected officials think “paying for such services ensures a higher quality service. ” No one focuses on how all paid services seriously diminishes opportunities for all residents within the jurisdiction to the very jobs their tax dollars support.

Our community leaders and elected officials seem to believe that quality volunteer organizations cannot exist side by side with government services; which have strained budgets resulting in the public being in jeopardy of not being able to get service because the government option is too expensive.

While the rest of the Country’s fire service is 70 percent volunteer, big cities and Counties have opted for the most expensive and least effective service (all paid). Sure this is not a popular subject because it makes those in office ask themselves a basic question, who in their right mind would opt to pay for a service that they can for free? And then when they look in the mirror they know the answer to that question. I get it, we pay more because we equate cost with quality. Besides, who is it that decides we do not need volunteers? Who decides that we should pay more for less? Who says we are not getting quality with a combination system? The same type of people in Michigan that said the water is better if we process it a different way. Those type of people ignore the facts and leave it up to people who do not know their craft. Who fact checks the Fire Service in our community? All the great men elected to President encourage the citizenry to volunteer for the community while 30% of the leaders elected to office in this Country discourage volunteerism for some reason, especially in majority-minority communities that have the highest death rate due to fires. In Maryland, Prince George’s County and Baltimore City have more fire deaths than all the jurisdictions in Maryland combined. (This is why I write about this.) Oh yeah, majority-minority communities in Maryland pay the highest taxes for fire protection to boot. Yes, we hire more fire fighters and die the most in fires. (Brilliant)

Well Prince George’s County dig deep into your extra money to pay more taxes for higher “quality services.” I’m not against higher taxes. I benefit from higher taxes but at least I am honest about it. I think we should pay higher taxes because I am a believer in more government. Like I want clean drinking water and I want someone more qualified than I to make sure we get it. I’m not sure that type of thinking works in the Fire Service though. I am sure it’s the opposite. The more we pay for fire and Emergency Medical Services the less service we get and that is a measurable fact.

No one counts the cost of lack of opportunity for jobs or the diminished preparedness culture because the misconception that paid public servants will handle everything during disasters. Before we let the combination system degrade beyond recovery a public hearing on its decline should be convened. One has to wonder why our elected officials are silent on decline of the combination system in our County? Maybe they are silent on the Fire Service because we are improving in that area? In either case silence is not service. Octavia Butler said, “Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny. And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it’s all over.” I am sure the people of Flint wished that someone had not chosen silence, but they are now all too familiar with politics that we love more than our very selves. The “Politics” surrounding public health and safety is always the best route. (Not). Oh and the Volunteers have been silent. How’s that working for you. Oh that’s right you’ve improved relations in the political arena as promised for your silence. (Not as well.)



About managingemergencies

I am a professional consultant with 30 years of experience in managing emergencies. My background and skills gave me the foundation to start Systems Emergency Preparedness Consultants. If you need preparedness training or would like to have a preparedness discussion for your employees contact me via email at sysmanemerconsult@aol.com. I held various positions in the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department until I retired in 2007. As a emergency planner and trainer in the Prince George's County Office of Homeland Security I planned exercises and training for government agencies and citizens groups. I was appointed Fire Chief of the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department in 2009. I started Systems Emergency Preparedness Consultants in June of that year. I had the opportunity to become the Assistant Fire Chief - Operations of the District of Columbia Fire/EMS Department and served for a year as the Interim Fire Chief. I am a trained mediator, mediator team leader and trainer. I also served as the Fire/EMS Department Equal Employment Opportunity Officer.
This entry was posted in Advice, Commentary, Emergencies, Health, Opinion, Politics, Warnings and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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