Community Commentary

Life and death politics

Recently, I read a friend’s message about outsourcing services currently provided by our city (Oceanside).That evening, I took a seat on a wall in my front yard to enjoy the peace and quiet of my neighborhood and an adult beverage. I live on a very nice street in north Oceanside where my neighbors sometimes remind me it would be an elite street but for the fact I live on it. Anyway, I was sipping and listening to the neighborhood children conspiring something only they could understand while in their makeshift cardboard home (inhabited by girls. Were it boys, the place would be called a fort). (Is that sexist or what?)

While sipping and thinking how lucky I was to live in such a neighborhood and city, the loud growl of a diesel engine drew my attention. Slowly, an Oceanside Fire Department truck came into sight and parked. Three firefighters emerged. I hoped their visit would help, even save a neighbor’s life. After a short visit, they boarded the truck and drove away. Evidently, the crisis that called them here had passed.

I sipped again, relief, gratitude, concern, and anger crowding out the earlier peace of mind. I was relieved the cause for their visit had passed. I was grateful for the knowledge that they’d come from a firehouse less than a mile away. Then I got concerned. In the future would a neighbor, a loved one, or I lose this benefit of fast response by trained paramedics to a life-threatening crisis?

In her yard, a neighbor has a sign saying, “For Mayor. Jerry Kern. Leadership. Accountability.” Pondering the question, I got angrier. How many of my neighbors will die for lack of quick response when Mr. Kern’s self-styled “Leadership and Accountability” outsource life-saving of Oceanside’s citizens to those more interested in profit than service to our community?

What’s next? Mr. Kern would have us believe he’s saving us taxes — In exchange for our lives? Thanks anyway! Maybe Mr. Kern’s leadership would take us to a place where, to save on our insurance premiums, we have EMTs staff our hospitals’ emergency rooms. Anything to lower costs. Using his logic, we could wait for taxis rather than have to pay for expensive luxuries like the city’s emergency response vehicles.

I have a son who served as firefighter in a city where firefighters are not required to be paramedics. Without exception, he and his fellows arrived at an emergency scene a few to several minutes ahead of the privatized ambulance service. My daughter, an ER physician in the same city, assures me that minutes — no, seconds — can mean the difference in saving a patient’s life and preventing a lasting, chronic disability.

Mr. Kern’s peculiar definitions of leadership and accountability, his pious and pretentious pronouncements about protecting the taxpayers, his quest to remove emergency services, library services, community and recreational centers threaten my city’s vibrancy and citizens’ protections. To invest in the vibrancy and protections of my city services, I’ll happily pay my taxes.

Mike Croghan is an Oceanside resident.