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Fire budget cuts could have real consequences

I'm writing this letter to express my view and to inform the citizens of Forest Grove of the real need to pass the Public Safety Levy on May 15.

I have been a volunteer fire fighter for the Forest Grove Fire and Rescue Department for seven years. I have personally seen how very important the career and volunteer fire fighting staffs are to the citizens of Forest Grove.

The possible loss of firefighter/paramedics from the career staff would be devastating to the citizens of Forest Grove along with the volunteer staff.

There are a number of times during the day-to-day operations of the fire department, that multiple emergency calls come in to the department requiring immediate response.

These calls range from possible heart attacks to a sick person that can be life-threatening or non-life threatening depending on the immediate actions taken by first responders/emergency medical technicians, who are usually paramedics.

If we were to lose personnel from the career staff due to the failing of the public safety levy, we would reduce the ability for the career staff to immediately handle multiple emergency calls. This would mean that the next call would fall on the volunteer staff to cover.

The Forest Grove Fire and Rescue volunteer staff are highly trained first-responders and EMTs (we perform and are required to pass the same tests as all board certified EMTs) but we are not as efficient as the career staff that do this every day.

This means that the failure of the public safety levy will impact you as the citizens of the City of Forest Grove.

As a citizen with an emergency, you may have to wait for the vital emergency care to come from me or another of my fellow volunteer fire fighting/emergency staff.

We will have to be paged at home or work, report to the fire station, put on our protective equipment, get on the fire apparatus and respond to your location .

The time that you have to wait could mean the matter of life or death, depending on your situation. You may say, 'Well, an ambulance would be on its way as well.'

This is correct, but let's keep in mind the closest ambulance probably went to the first emergency call that the career staff are currently on (which is why the volunteer staff are called in to respond to your call). The next ambulance could be coming from anywhere in Washington County.

The fire department and staff (career and volunteers) rely very heavily on the career paramedic staff to provide the continuing education to help keep skills necessary to perform at a high degree of proficiency required to provide emergency professional care on-scene.

If we (I live in this town also) lose two of our career paramedics, this could greatly affect the continuing education we as first-responders and EMTs need to continue to provide the needed and vital life-threatening emergency care to the citizens of Forest Grove.

This is why I ask that you carefully consider this information when you cast your vote for the fire safety levy. You may be that second or third emergency call.

Jeffrey O. Bade is a volunteer fire fighter/EMT in Forest Grove.