As expected, the City Council voted unanimously last week to apply to Collier County for Florida’s Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, (COPCN). This is the first step in trying to replace Collier County’s ambulance service with a city-owned and operated service. If all goes well, we the people will vote on the issue this summer.
What I found wonderfully reassuring was that, at this particular Council meeting and led off by Vice Chair Charlette Roman, our elected Councilors showed political honesty by voicing questions that usually are ignored or brushed off by the “emotion lobby”. Some of Roman’s “strong reservations” included: identifying the existing problem that needs fixing; describing the service improvement to be expected; examining and announcing the liabilities and disadvantages of operating our own ambulance service and vetting the information proffered in the consultant’s report. This last concern is particularly significant because the consultant seemed to mistakenly think Marco Island’s purpose was to improve Collier County’s ambulance service at our own expense. This, of course would naturally happen because the County could and would reassign their equipment and personnel elsewhere in Collier County. However, that’s certainly not Marco’s purpose in seeking a COPCN and doubling the cost of ambulance service for Marco Island, is it?
The City Council agreed with and even augmented Vice Chair Roman’s reservations. Of particular interest was Councilor Reed’s suggestion to explore the possibility of subsidizing a fully equipped and staffed Emergency Room right here on Marco Island. Such a proposal was made some years ago by the Medical Community but was rejected for lack of foresight. It’s certainly worth exploring today, because, according to Councilor Reed, having a local ER on Marco would reduce the patient’s maximum ambulance travel time from the current thirty-five minutes to a mere five minutes or so. Obviously that could be a realistic, measurable emergency life-saving improvement worthy of increasing our costs, as opposed to basically expanding Marco’s expenses and responsibilities in order to just change the name on the ambulance from “Collier County” to “Marco Island”.
But – I digress and apologize. My point in writing this LTE is simply to express appreciation for the political morality and rationality our City Council displayed last Tuesday, despite the predictable emotional appeal to “control our own emergency services”. Thank you, Councilors, for being so deserving of our confidence.