Thursday, September 17, 2009

MAST into the Fire Department--for now part 2

Well, what happened today was only surprising in one way, that it did happen today, and with such quickness. I really expected the ordinance, with its two amendments, to be tabled. But they went ahead and did it, despite the testimonies from the public and the strong opposition of Ed Ford.
Smokey Dyer did a good job, considering the material he had to work with. We still have no specifics--really. Phase I will run for a year, with the fire department running MAST just as it is run now, while the situation is studied by various parties, plus a EMS Committee. I have no beef with the Chief. He's in the middle. In fact, I think there was some CYA too from the chief, as he reminded the Council that they had the authority ultimately. He knows he is in a tough spot.
The petition drive will go forward. The petition drive will fix two things: One, the process has been opaque to the public. Three short opportunities to testify, that is all. And no input from doctors and hospitals. So if the situation goes to a vote, there will be info and campaigning and all that. Much more than now. Secondly, it will slow things down. Even though you may say, "Well, eight months, that's enough." the debates, public hearings and votes were very intensely concentrated in August and September. There was little action before that, just one committee meeting with public testimony in late March.

It just strikes me as a change that doesn't need to be made. If you change management, you will change performance, even with the same "field staff". Philosophy, pressures, style all cause changes. Also, the plan is to wait even longer before a concrete plan is made. And Chief Dyer wants to start from scratch, "a blank sheet of paper"--here is a company that works pretty good and we are going to start all over?

Nothing is perfect, everything can be improved. For example, one of the working condition issues is the mobile post in isolated places, or in bad neighborhoods. MAST could study the post structure, and see if some posts are not suitable and should not be used. They could find the posts that are geographically advantageous, but are not near a 24 hour store (for example) and perhaps add some amenities to these posts. The movement of the ambulances has probably been studied, but revisiting it and making sure that post moves are truly needed may not be a bad idea.

A good company is always looking to improve. Rarely does a good company improve by merger or change in management.

One thing is they know we are watching now--watching to make sure it's done right, no matter what happens.

MAST into the fire department should not happen. If it screws up the ambulance service, lives could be at risk. Aside from the question of city government competence and political influence increases, do we want a change in management that ends up looking like Sprint-Nextel or Chrysler-DaimlerBenz? Remember, the latter ended in divorce, with Chrysler weakened. Part of the reason it failed is that the cultures of the two companies never meshed. Culture is a live question when firefighters and emergency medical personnel are put together.

The people can have a say with the petitions and votes.

Lives are at stake.

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