Well, here we go into August and with this new month, the vote on whether or not Marco ought create and operate its own ambulance service will be on us. I first heard of the subject about two years ago and since then tried to learn about it with inquiries to Marco’s City Council, Fire Chief Murphy, the “Our City Our Ambulance” committee and Collier County’s EMS Chief Butcher. All these good folks were as helpful and informative as their particular positions allowed. I appreciate their accessibility although some concerns do remain:
First, what exactly is the ambulance problem that Marco’s Fire Chief Murphy says he’s been fighting for the past eight years? Has the sky really been falling for that long? Records indicate that the ambulance service provided to Marco by Collier County actually exceeds the nationally accepted standards and I’m not aware of any particular crisis.
Secondly, the County offered to provide two FULL time ambulances to Marco for an added annual cost of about $500K. This is a far more reasonable cost than the annual millions of dollars a city-owned service would cost taxpayers. Why haven’t we been given a much closer look, or voting opportunity, to this attractive option?
Third, Marco’s city governance has been, and still remains, an administrative nightmare. Marco seems unable to keep even the simple City Manager concept in reasonable order; ditto Marco’s roads, canals, storm drains, etc. We have the dubious distinction of buying and operating Florida’s most expensive water and sewer system. Not a wonderful track record.
Fourth, and in fairness, my research does suggest that yes, a City of Marco Island ambulance service might indeed be a very “nice to have” additional service…however, it does not appear to be a “NEED to have” expense.
Given the above rationales, (and there are others, I’m sure), it certainly doesn’t seem smart to throw away what has been working very well for decades and assign the life & death responsibilities of Emergency Ambulance Services exclusively to a still-immature, messy City of Marco Island.
I’ve concluded that old-fashion common sense outweighs the political/emotional arguments presented.
I will vote “NO” on the ambulance issue, even though I may be in the minority.