Saving lives, potential ambulance response changes in Logan County and volunteer firefighters
Those driving the stretch of I-35 between Guthrie and Edmond will take note of the numerous occurrences of recent damage in the cable barriers which separate the north and southbound lanes. Each of these damage spots potentially represents a life that was saved from a crossover accident during the recent winter storms.
A few years ago Oklahoma became the first US state to deploy the barriers. The state department of transportation initially received opposition from the federal government which was reluctant to allow state officials to deploy these on the federal interstate system. The state responded to this resistance by putting up a test barrier on the Lake Hefner Parkway, a state highway which resembles an interstate, and which used to be known for deadly crossover accidents. Not two weeks after the deployment of the test barrier it prevented a crossover accident and helped allow the state to convince federal officials of the life-saving potential of these barriers.
Today, with the statewide deployment of this system, crossover fatalities have dropped precipitously. This serves as yet one more example of how the best government is that which comes about at the state level and not the one-size-fits-all policies of the big federal government.
I have started receiving contacts by phone and email from District 31 constituents who have become worried after reading articles from a Logan County commissioner which speaks to the possible creation of a new Logan County Emergency Medical Services district. This proposal could change the EMS provider for many residents and is one of the most serious and consequential policy proposals which I have seen taken on by the county during my years in public service.
What isn’t known are the specific facts which back up the commissioner’s potential proposal. A proposed map for the new services area has not been generated nor have the facts and figures which would justify the need for a change been provided to the public.
What is known is this: if the commissioner’s proposal extends to the current EMSA service area, not only would thousands of Logan County families experience a tax increase, but according to multiple public safety officials with whom I have spoken, those families could also suffer a dramatic setback in the response time and quality of life-saving emergency care. The level of response could also drop off in the Guthrie area as resources are spread out amongst a much wider area. This makes this truly a life and death issue for many House District 31 residents and one which I will continue to research and stay engaged on and will provide more information as it becomes available.
Finally, last week the House of Representatives approved a vitally important proposal to our area. House Bill 2005 would allow firefighters, over the age of 45 and who have served at municipal fire departments such as Edmond or Oklahoma City, to also serve as volunteers at area volunteer departments. Under current law, due to pension issues, those firefighters who have served at the city departments and move into our area are prevented from serving as volunteers at the local departments. This is especially punitive to the Deer Creek, Oak Cliff and Woodcrest departments which serve quickly-growing and heavily-populated residential service areas and need the services and expertise from these volunteers.
I expect the bill will win Senate and Gubernatorial approval and go into law later this year.
Thank you for reading this article. Your interest and input are much appreciated. Please do not hesitate to email Jason.Murphey@hd31.org with your thoughts and suggestions.