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Mailbag: Support for Fire Chief Arnold's plan

October 04, 2012

Our interim fire chief, Tom Arnold, has proposed a plan that will increase response times and coverage, will save money and will generate a cost-recovery program for our city ("The anatomy of a deal," Sept. 30). Arnold has employed sophisticated computer modeling in developing the plan. It is a winner for Costa Mesa.

The crux of the plan is to separate paramedic (rescue) units from fire engines, establishing rescue units at each fire station, in addition to the current fire engines. This will substantially improve response times because the new rescue units can respond faster than the current fire engines.

Getting the adequate amount of first-responders to the scene as soon as possible is the essence of public safety. Simply put, faster response times save lives. If the plan is adopted, we will have a total of 10 response units serving the city, including the five new rescue units, which will improve the department's overall coverage. We will be safer.

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Arnold's plan would reduce costs by about $700,000 annually by reducing staffing. The Costa Mesa Firefighters Assn. strongly favors the plan. This is a testament to the effectiveness of the plan and the reasonableness and commitment of our city's firefighters.

Arnold's plan would recover as much as $2 million in department costs annually by having the new rescue units transport patients to the hospital. Currently, patient transport service is provided by a private vendor.

The city receives minimal cost recovery from the service; also, our citizens must pay the private ambulance vendor directly for any charge that is not covered by insurance or Medicare. Under Arnold's plan, the city would not bill the citizens for uncovered ambulance services. Thus, the city recovers costs from insurance reimbursement and our citizens save money by not having to pay deductibles and co-pay charges. Everyone wins.

One of my top priorities if elected is to fast-track the adoption of Arnold's plan. It is in our city's best interests both in terms of our physical and fiscal well-being.

John Stephens

Costa Mesa

The writer is running for Costa Mesa City Council.

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