A Hero Is Always on Duty

In part because I spend so much time railing against public-sector unions, I wanted to be sure to mention one item from tonight’s town council meeting in Tiverton, although (not being a real journalist) my details will have to remain sketchy until a professional note-taker and reporter makes them available (since a quick Internet search turned up no report thus far of the incident):
While on a date, Tiverton firefighter Robert Thurber investigated some flashing emergency-vehicle lights and discovered that a car had driven into the water with two people inside. Without safety gear, he proceeded to join the rescue effort, making multiple dives in an attempt to open the car doors and free the passengers. Unfortunately, the diving crew, searching in dark, murky waters, proved unable to reach the two twenty-somethings in time for a trip to the hospital to save them. Tonight, Mr. Thurber received recognition for valor (although the specific honor is one of the details of which I didn’t take note).
In my admiration of the man and all of the men and women in uniform who make it a 24 x 7 vocation to protect, help, and serve others, I simply don’t believe that communities would begrudge them ample provisions, remuneration, and benefits no matter their employment structure. It’s vexing that they feel it necessary to participate in a form of organization that seems to tend toward extortion and corruption.
That said, I should stress that unionism and Robert Thurber’s heroism are entirely distinct, and the latter ought to be recognized and lauded without regard to the former.

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michael
13 years ago

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Without an orginized labor force, some communities, Providence being tops on the list, will give ample atta boys and pats on the back while sending us into life-threatening situations with old, inadequet equipment, little or no training and minimal insurance.
“It’s vexing that they feel it necessary to participate in a form of organization that seems to tend toward extortion and corruption.”
Thank you, and screw you. Sadly, nothing new here.

Justin Katz
13 years ago

Well, if that’s how you’re inclined to engage me in discussion, Michael, I can’t say I see much purpose to continued communication between us. I hope that doesn’t prove to be a settled judgment, but the decision will have to be yours.
I do want to clarify, though, that I strove to express my assessment of tendency as applying to unionization, as an organizing principle, not any particular union or class of unions. There will be variation from one to the other — and from one vocation to the other — but my impression stands with respect to the unization impulse per se.

Mike Cappelli
Mike Cappelli
13 years ago

michael,
Perhaps you could explain just why so many people do the job on a volunteer basis. The truth is, despite your union talking points, people – dedicated, competent and talented people – will do your job for a hell of a lot less money. That is why every new academy is oversubscribed by what – 100 – 200, TIMES what is needed.
You union hacks are a fraud.
How about we advertise for doing the job for 1/2 the pay and 1/2 the benefits and see how many peope apply. I bet we get plenty of competent people for the job.

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

I used to be a volunteer firefighter. My father is a 30 year veteran of a volunteer department and was chief for eight of those years. We only ever lost one man in the line and that was a heart attack.
Our equipment was up-to-date and well maintained and paid for through aggressive pursuit of government and private grants and minimum input from the taxpayers. We had a ladder truck, three pumper-tankers, three ambulances, two rescue boats, a brushfire truck, and other assets.
Nobody got paid but lives were still saved and fires were put out effectively and efficiently.
I get Providence (a metro area) being a union house, but otherwise I can’t see why volunteers can’t do it as well or better for far less.

michael
13 years ago

Justin, my apologies, my “thank you and screw you” was not a personal attack but an overused cliche used at the firehouse when we read some news report or another patting us on the back when we do something worthwhile, then back to the same old overpaid, underworked tax-liability rhetoric. Now get back to work you thin skinned non-union carpenter! (That was a personal attack, lol)
As for volunteers, I’ve got a post around here somewhere that puts my feelings on the matter out there. It’s long and I won’t bore anybody by finding it and pasting it here, but if you care to look it’s in the “labor” section of the posts.

Brendan
Brendan
13 years ago

Rob and I used to work together before he got on the job in Tiverton last year. Good kid; this doesn’t surprise me at all. He’s at least a second-generation firefighter (sorry Rob I forget if your grandfather was too!).
As for the rest of the post:
I simply don’t believe that communities would begrudge them ample provisions, remuneration, and benefits no matter their employment structure.
Entirely too trusting Justin. Look at West Warwick and Johnston- running two men per truck when NFPA calls for 4. Look at Providence- Captains with 20 years in making less than a first-day recruit in Warwick.
Whatever government can get away with, they’ll do it. Same goes for privatization. I’ve been inside the trucks of every private ambulance copany in this state- NONE of them have the equipment necessary to effectively respond to 911 calls, because in Rhode Island they aren’t REQUIRED to.
Private companies running EMS works in other states because the minimum equipment standards are different. That is to say, far higher.

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

Are the standards in RI lower for EMS because no matter where you are in the state, you’re never so far away from a hospital that you can’t pee on it?
Back in NY where I used to live it was a 20-25 minute drive to the nearest hospital so we have pretty robust ALS capabilities including the ability to administer drugs under a doctor’s supervision (either over the radio or phone). That’s obviously not needed here.

Brendan
Brendan
13 years ago

Are the standards in RI lower for EMS because no matter where you are in the state, you’re never so far away from a hospital that you can’t pee on it?
Nope. They’re lower because various interests in RI have demonstrated time and time again that EMS is not a priority.
we have pretty robust ALS capabilities including the ability to administer drugs under a doctor’s supervision (either over the radio or phone). That’s obviously not needed here.
Really. Do you know anything about EMS in RI? What drugs do you think your loved one can do without in an emergency? Do you even know what Mike and I can give on standing order already (no MD contact necessary)?
Do you think an ambulance 25 minutes from a hospital should be able to only carry 3 rounds of a drug that’s to be given every 3-5 minutes?
Really.

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

Brendan,
Such vitriol. Why? I asked fair questions and you’ve pretty much parsed my statements to the point of gibberish. Of course I don’t know the specific needs or regulations and that’s WHY I ASKED.
Typical union thug.

michael
13 years ago

I may be mistaken, but I don’t think Brenden belongs to a union.
Our EMS system is a disaster. Well meaning people have implimented state EMS protocols which give providers guidelines pertaining to patient care but there are many loopholes stingy private companies and government beaurocrats can squiggle out of.
Ambiguous protocols like, “ALS providers “can” administer Morphine, or “obtain a blood glucose if available.”
As far as standards, I wasn’t aware that our standards were less than other places. Paramedics have more training and do more in the field than EMT-Cardic level but the standard of care given by the EMS community here in RI, given the lack of recourses is second to none.
I think I started this whole commentary thread off on a sarcastic tone but there is no need to keep it going in that direction. A guy in Tiverton was recognized for his off-duty heroic deed. Kudo’s to him.

Brendan
Brendan
13 years ago

Typical union thug.
LOL. Joke’s on you.
Greg, what I’m trying to say is that proximity to a hospital or type of service delivery model should have no bearing on the level of care available. Why should the residents of South Providence get a lesser-equipped ambulance than the residents of say, Burrillville?
Why should the private ambulance contractor for the Bristol Veteran’s Home be able to send a lesser-equipped ambulance for our most honorable elders than the 911 service that would respond to your home? To save a buck?
If the people who clamor for privatization actually knew what they were asking for, they’d change their tune. Quickly.

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

Sounds to me like the protocols are specifically designed to allow private firms to be less-equipped in the hopes that someday someone dies in one and gets sued and the General Assembly decides that we can’t have private contractors anymore because they’re unsafe.
But then again, I didn’t grow up in this state so I’m capable of seeing behind the curtain.

Brendan
Brendan
13 years ago

I’d say the protocols were written in the 70’s and early 80’s, and not revised much since. That was when EMS training was in its infancy, and drugs were administered based on color coding of the boxes rather than what they did and how they affect the patient. Ambulance service was not yet far removed from being run by funeral homes.
The idea that protocols were written so that MAYBE, SOMEday, somebody would die because of them is ludicrous. If you need more tinfoil for your hat, I’ve got a fresh roll in the kitchen.

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