To the Editor,
I would like to thank the four-town Emergency Medical Service Review Committee for the excellent and important work they have done over the past few months. The towns of Camden, Rockport, Lincolnville and Hope face an important decision as to how our emergency response service is provided, and they have provided some critical information to help us make an informed decision. As a governmental committee, they have successfully removed emotional aspects from their report and have provided us with solid financial and administrative information. This financial consideration is a key component that should be considered when casting your vote.
There is, however, an emotional aspect to this decision that should not be denied. Just as the important financial and administrative information should weigh in your decision, so should the impact to the community and your personal level of comfort with those who respond in your time of need. Our current provider of emergency medical service has always provided a high level of service, and their quality and skill is in no way being questioned. To the contrary, they are highly praised by the Review Committee in these areas.
In my case, should my wife or I ever need emergency response service, the Camden First Aid Association team members know us personally. We have worked together in the community. We have attended many of the same fundraising events. We have celebrated holidays, birthdays and milestone events together. They have been to our homes, and we have been to theirs. So in the event of an accident, they not only know how to call my wife, but they probably know that I usually have two dogs in the car with me, and can respond appropriately. Even the most skilled responder from outside our community could not respond in the same way. The comfort I take in this knowledge has true value to me.
Camden First Aid Association has its problems with administration. These problems can be fixed given specific parameters and time period. Other important community organizations have been in a similar situation and have recovered to become vital to our community. I was reminded that the YMCA was in a similar situation many years ago, struggling financially and on the verge of closing. Franchise service could have easily moved in to fill the need, but in a very different way. Instead, a new board of directors was formed, skilled and experienced management was put in place, and a long-range vision was developed. It’s hard to imagine our community without today’s YMCA.
The financial information provided by the Emergency Medical Service Review Committee is clear. We will save town money, and thus your tax money, by hiring a large, state-wide service provider. In Rockport for example, the average property taxpayer will save about $35 per year by choosing outside service over Camden First Aid Association. Other towns will see similar savings. For me, keeping our service provider jobs local, keeping those who know us personally employed in these positions, and being an active part of the community they serve has value, and $35 per year seems like a bargain.
I urge all voters in Camden, Rockport, Lincolnville and Hope to contact your select board and weigh both the financial and emotional aspects of this decision. Tell them how you would like them to vote. Attend your select board and town meetings. By doing so, you will be sure your select board is representing you.