Saturday, Oct 25, 2014

Some government functions should not be privatized ... like EMS

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Privatizing parts of government has been a rallying cry for some time with a lot of folks, and for good reason. Taxpayer money can be saved and efficiency can result if bureaucracies are too big and bloated. But there are certain areas where services are best controlled by the government and public safety is the No. 1 example of this. That's why we don't support privatizing county EMS services.

Highlands County commissioners have been hearing from a few folks who want ambulance services privatized. The good news is they've been reluctant to pursue that course of action, but they've kept an open mind to hear proposals. The matter isn't going away anytime soon.

We're glad commissioners don't seem to support privatization of ambulance services responding to accidents. The county has a fine EMS system and it's a big job with a lot of accountability. The public needs to have a say in how this operation works and there needs to be transparency. Saving a few bucks - and it's questionable if that would even happen - isn't worth it when lives are on the line.

Private ambulances already serve segments of the population, such as transporting people out of town for further care, but our county EMS responds to emergency care situations and we want them to continue to do so.

We don't farm out our law enforcement to private companies and at the national level, we don't hire mercenaries to fight our wars. Some areas are just too important and complex to send those tasks out for bid. Operating prisons is another area where private management has proven to be a bad idea for the most part.

It's a big job providing vital emergency care to the public. Well-trained staff is a must, and they should be compensated accordingly for their skills. It can be argued they don't make enough as it is, but what we don't want is a low-ball bidder to offer services and hiring on the cheap.

We're blessed with a quality EMS system staffed with quality people, and we need to continue operating it and making improvements. That's best handled by our county and not a corporate board room located elsewhere.

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