Candidates: Make response time the first priority
by Ron Berben
In light of the recent advances regarding the plan to create a new fire station that will combine our county and city fire and emergency rescue services, two fundamental issues arise, tax dollars and response times. A new city fire chief will be appointed soon and I feel assured that so much positive cooperation will continue. The current level of coordination between our county and city emergency resources, the chiefs and personnel is nothing short of superb.
Our city officials in conjunction with concerned citizens are doing the right thing by continuing to debate the details of this plan in an open forum. I was very impressed with the highly productive, meaningful and respectful format in which the North Davis Shores Neighborhood Association conducted a venue it hosted this week to address the concerns, input and questions of its members, city residents and qualified city officials. Hopefully more neighborhood associations will follow suit, resulting in a healthy and insightful discussion. The level of thoughtful participation from so many segments of our city speaks volumes about how informed and involved our citizens are especially when making such an important decision.
On a personal note, I had a firsthand experience with EMS response time last week at a function in a restaurant downtown, someone needed medical attention. While helping clear a path for the gurney, I amongst others called 911. Waiting out on Avenida Menendez to wave in the fire truck and ambulance, I realized…on my end…minutes seemed like hours. In reality, the response time was just over four minutes.
When arising at any decision about this issue, we have to be certain that our facts are accurate and our sources are the best when we make decisions that can impact the welfare of anyone of us.
We all have a question about how a new facility will be paid for, but not about how a new location will impact crucial response time.
As many know, I am a staunch public safety advocate, so when it comes to maintaining and improving certain aspects that affect St. Augustine, in my opinion, the more discussion the better. At this stage of the debate, thanks to so much public attention and inquiry, we have more questions than answers. I think this is the only way to create a strong foundation upon which to reach a real solution to benefit our city and for our public safety.
Ron Berben is a candidate for St Augustine City Commission Seat 4 and approved this message.