David Rodeback's Blog

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Police Chief, Fire Chief, and Another Noteworthy Bit of Progress

There were three interesting, related developments at last evening's meeting of the American Fork City Council.

First, a new police chief was announced. He's Lance Call, who has been on the police force of West Valley City for at least the last several years. He reportedly lives in North Ogden, and will be moving south. I don't know him; there's no reason why I should. One favorable thought: I suspect that his having spent some time in West Valley City means that he knows the difference between reality and Mayberry.

Second, a new fire chief was announced: Jay Christensen, who has been been in charge of ambulances and emergency management for American Fork. I don't know him, either.

Third, we heard that our fire and ambulance departments are being combined. This is a positive, necessary step on the way to the essential outcome of having a paramedic service. (There are other remaining steps, including establishing at least one paid squad of firefighters.) We have EMTs, and they are very dedicated. But we're big enough that we probably should have paramedics, who have far more training and can do a great deal more for a patient than EMTs can.. Obviously, this sort of thing would have some budgetary implications, but the real obstacle, I'm told, is political. In other words, turf. EMT services tend to resist the creation of paramedic services, for reasons which are understandable but do not necessarily include the best interest of the population. Insiders tell me that volunteer firefighters tend to resist the evolution to a paid department for similar reasons. For some reason, pride in one's own dedication and skills sometimes leads a person to resist, not encourage, improvement. Still, the subject of paramedics in American Fork has come up before; see, for example, this 2004 article from the American Fork Citizen.

One long-term public servant tells me of an attempt some years ago to establish a county-wide paramedic service. Apparently, it was a case study in municipalities and jurisdictions being unable to play well together, even when it would be to their advantage. This is not a new observation; when even something relatively minor, a county-wide library system, was raised at a recent meet-the-candidates event in American Fork, some declared that it would be nearly impossible to achieve that level of cooperation among the county's various governments.

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