The Tracy Fire Department is obviously trying to provide the highest level of service possible. It’s very unfortunate that the city of Tracy’s finance director, Zane Johnston, who doesn’t even live in Tracy, sees more importance in realizing a financial return rather than saving lives.
Our fire department has managed to provide advanced life support to a portion of the taxpaying community through reallocating existing budget funds. In an effort to provide this level of service to everyone, the department has asked the city of Tracy to fully fund an advanced life support program, placing a paramedic on each fire engine. Johnston has determined that it’s more important to develop a “fee for service” program so the city can see a financial return through saving lives. I don’t believe you can put a price on a life saved.
As you reported May 5, a Tracy Fire Department engineer, Mike Oliveri, saved a life while returning from a conference to help improve the emergency rescue service provided to this community. Unfortunately, the skills this firefighter provided on an airplane cannot be provided to everyone who calls 9-1-1 in and around Tracy because those in charge feel the city should gain financially before this level of service can be provided to everyone.
Tracy Fire Chief Chris Bosch sized it up the best: “Even though it wasn’t in our community, to be able to use these skills no matter where you are creates a benefit for everybody. Sometimes we get caught up in whether or not we should provide a service based on cost. When you’re in that situation, the victim doesn’t care what it costs.”
I believe the people of Tracy are not aware that the fire department’s budget is only one-third of the police department’s budget. Through the use of Johnston’s smoke and mirrors, the city of Tracy actually only contributes about $7 million to the budget of a fire department protecting a city of more than 80,000 residents!
I urge the City Council to look beyond the recommendations of Johnston and lean toward the recommendations of our fire department. It obviously has put the best interests of our community first.
Joseph Jorgenson is a Tracy resident.