Saturday, September 22, 2007

Tasers, nooses, and paramedics

Three stories in the news this week are dabbling in monumental issues. It is fascinating to step back and watch as people seek the black-and-white truth in a world they’ve already defined as lacking absolutes.

If all points of view are valid, what are they searching for? Well, fame perhaps…or retribution…or validation…or money.

The problem is that all this dabbling has far-reaching effects on society.

Where the Florida controversy is concerned, freedom of speech and use of tasers hang in the balance.

As for this mess in Jena Louisiana, we are facing new definitions of equal protection under the law as well as hate crimes.

Unless you live in the Fox Valley, you may not even know the paramedic case I refer to. (Google Gloria Lopez Carpentersville.)

In this case we just might forever change the face of EMS in this country. If the paramedics are an extension of the emergency room and therefore must treat and transport everyone who is presented to them, towns (like hospitals) might simply close down their operations. Why risk a $30 million lawsuit every time a paramedic makes a decision?

Looking down the road, it is just possible that towns will get out of the medical business. Private ambulance companies will come back. Treatment will be based on ability to pay and the ambulance drivers will not administer treatment.

The City of Elgin bills around $2 million for paramedic services every year and it is more that twice the size of Carpentersville. I’m sure it costs much more than that to keep paramedics in all the fire stations 24/7. A $30 million lawsuit coupled with increasing insurance premiums suddenly make it a no-brainer to ask the question – is it worth the risk to have paramedics at all?

The trouble with martyrs these days is that they aren’t of the highest quality. A sassy college student, a juvenile delinquent, and the mother of a probable anchor baby can’t hold a candle to Rosa Parks. In fact, all three put together don’t add up to a Rosa Parks!

I guess what I’m saying is that our country is debating significant issues using lousy examples.

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