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Menlo Park fire board criticizes JPA, county ambulance agreements

Original post made on Apr 24, 2019

The Menlo Park Fire Protection District board has expressed its objections to an Emergency Medical System Joint Powers Agreement and an ambulance contract with San Mateo County following a brief opportunity to take a look at the deals.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, April 24, 2019, 9:28 AM

Comments (6)

Posted by Harold Schapelhouman, Fire Chief
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Apr 24, 2019 at 10:47 am

For clarity - The proposed Ambulance Agreement issues stem from how the County EMS Agency has handled the process and contract roll-out and terms, not how AMR has performed or partnered with local Fire Agencies these last ten years. I understand the concern around what people are billed but from a system performance and actual service to the customer side, AMR and their employees have done a very good job.

Only one Director believes Mutual Aid is the answer and a proposal to leave the EMS JPA initiated by that same Director was voted down. Our system, agreements and partnership have served us well for 22 years but needs to be changed and updated. Everyone is allowed their opinion and should be heard, but to only include one Directors opinion, is not inclusive of the whole and reflective of the entire Fire Board and Chiefs views, discussion and feedback. I suggest concerned residents watch the meeting on YouTube or attend the Board meetings in person.

Partnerships that better serve the public are very important. Looking forward to the next ten years requires a methodical approach, not rushed for time but equally involving dialogue and collaboration. Automatic Aid, which binds the system participants together, can be modified and improved for all, if handled correctly.

The Fire Board should be commended for publicly discussing these important issues, the health and well being of our residents and customers hangs in the balance. Equally, the Board of Supervisors and County Manager have allowed for more time, that time has been critical to better understand these complex, multi-faceted and tied together issues.

I appreciate the Almanac covering this important story, my comments are not meant to criticize but to clarify a very complex web of interlocking agreements, partnerships and processes put together to better serve the community. What we do, how we do it and what we do next is critically important to serving the sick and injured over the next ten years. I suggest people pay attention to this subject because it will affect emergency services directly to you, your families, friends and businesses over the next decade.

Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman
Menlo Park Fire Protection District

Service before Self
Protection of life, property and the environment through high quality Emergency First Response Services

Posted by Citizen
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 24, 2019 at 11:43 pm

It should be noted that only one Fire Board Member wanted to withdraw from the JPA causing an unbalance in the entire public safety response method. All the others, wanted to work with the other jurisdictions to form a fair and better JPA.

Mr. Bernstein,
Please get it.... San Mateo County wants to work as a team. Teamwork works, get on board.

Posted by Who's Driving the Ambulance
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 25, 2019 at 9:19 am

Who's Driving the Ambulance is a registered user.

San Mateo County government is often sclerotic, ossified and self-serving. Good for Mr. Bernstein to stand up and challenge the status quo. When you get a bill for $2500, not covered by your health insurance, perhaps you will understand the larger issues at play. There are several operating models guiding ambulance service around the country, don’t assume we have the best one.

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 25, 2019 at 9:30 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Whose driving" did not read the article carefully - the entire Board is unhappy with the current JPA and four of the Board members want a new JPA which reflects current realities.

Only Bernstein wants to go it alone - a historical backward position given the proven value and importance of mutual aid agreements.

Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 25, 2019 at 3:05 pm

None of the current directors has any fire or EMS experience; previous directors did. Understanding that this industry works better as a team doesn't mean you leave the team; it means you look for ways to correct what's not working and improve it.

As the Fire Chief pointed out, the structure and representation of the JPA hasn't evolved in the same ways that the fire agencies have in the county. Time to correct the structure and representation not throw it all away.

When the disaster comes, you don't want to be working all by yourself.

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 25, 2019 at 3:11 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 16, 2019 at 6:31 am
Peter Carpenter is a registered user.
The purpose of any JPA is to better serve the residents of the Fire District. The current JPA no longer does this and it should be abandoned and replaced with a new JPA that reflects the current realities.

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