I know that certain people are considered “off limits” when it comes to criticism. One of those, especially since 911, is the fireman. But as that hasn’t stopped me before, let me continue.
Just mentioning the word firemen brings to mindÂ a picture of an elete force of brave men and women going out to fight for the lives of citizens in the community on a nightly basis. As we sleep, they keep guard against the ravages of fire and what it can do to a home or business,Â or worse, what it can do to a family.
I am grateful. But in this day of needing to cut budgets, I wonderÂ about the wisdom of employing firemenÂ in the capacity that we currently find ourselves. RecentÂ discussionsÂ with a few of my patients who used to be in that place of employmentÂ paint a different picture of what really happensÂ behind closed doors atÂ the firehouse.
It seems that thereÂ are hours and hours of video games, cooking lessons, and second business dealsÂ interrupted by an occasional call for the services we need. And it seems that we actually pay a pretty good sum of money for that. Apparently most work aÂ two dayÂ shift followed by a four day period at home. One patient stated that here in Yakima, that pays about $60,000 dollars. What?Â That’s more than my nurse makes in a free market economy workingÂ five days a week and 12 months a year.
One source stated that his friend actually works a 48 hour shift here and then travels to King County where he works another. That way he can bring in $120,000 for a four day work-week. Are you kidding me?
My suggestion is to use what we physicians use when we are on-call. It is called a pager. When it goes off, I drive to the hospital and take care of the emergent business at hand. It seems that the volunteer force would be the better way to go.Â
This has little to do with the fact that my past neighbor was a fireman and probably the laziest person I ever knew. He couldn’t even mow his lawn on one of those four days he had off. OurÂ HOAÂ had to eventually send a petition to hisÂ door to get something done. People stopped by twice to askÂ how long his house had been abandoned. Really.
I want to know the real truth and nothing but the truth. Let me know what you think.