EMS transition from county to fire-based city service welcome

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Our community turned the page this week with a significant transition regarding countywide emergency medical services.
After numerous studies and more than a year of often contentious debate, keys to ambulance operations were passed from the county to Aurora City Hall, where a new fire-based entity made its debut Saturday.
Now is the time to support what all agree has for years been regarded as a top-notch service. Quality, timely emergency care was never, ever questioned throughout this debate and the sense of trust in knowing that citizens will be taken care of if and when they need to call 911 remains paramount regardless of who is paying the bill.
Last week’s ANR report shed a lot of light on a new service which city officials say remains a work in progress. There is reason for confidence right out of the gate since much of the structure remains the same. There is also a new management team and a much different culture involving a merged volunteer fire department and EMS service, which may take time to adjust. That’s understandable, though volunteerism has long been a vital part of local fire and EMS services and we hope that element is not lost.
The addition of overnight facilities was a logical first step which should help improve response time, especially during inclement weather. The boots on the ground personnel, the men and women who work to provide ambulance service 24/7, should enjoy improved accommodations and see that as a positive sign of change as well.
The primary reason for the year-long debate -- cost of service -- is one question that has not been answered, and likely won’t be for several months. Aurora citizens will now carry the lion’s share of that tax burden and should pay attention come budget time in August as to what the service will cost going forward and how it will be funded. By that time, there should be preliminary call statistics and financial reports on which to better base a realistic budget and funding plan.
This was a positive move which needed to happen for several reasons, in the end. Perhaps most importantly it removes what had become a source of polarizing division for our whole community. It’s time to move forward.
Kurt Johnson

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