On Volusia: A Matter of Life and Death

Last Friday, we were graced with mega-developer and High Panjandrum of Political Power, Mori Hosseini’s, smiling visage on the front page of the Daytona Beach News-Journal – beaming with pride as he kicked off ICI Homes’ marketing campaign for his new Mosaic “full life” community.

The 1,200 home development joins Latitudes Margaritaville – the Jimmy Buffett-inspired faux-beach community currently under construction on top of our sensitive water recharge areas – bringing the total number of homes and commercial structures in that area to over 11,000 in next five to six years.

That doesn’t include out-of-control growth which has already been approved along the spine of east Volusia from Farmton to the Flagler County line.

As I like to say, “that’s a lot of Walmart shoppers, kids.”

In announcing the big Mosaic grand opening, News-Journal business writer Clayton Park said, “Another big piece is being added to the white-hot development puzzle already taking shape just west of Interstate 95.”   

Puzzling indeed.

Our own doddering fool of a County Chair, Ed Kelley – a sycophantic bootlicker who didn’t miss a prime chance to kiss Mori’s sizeable ass – was quoted in the article, “It’s going to have a big impact on the area.  The rooftops are going to help support more businesses in the area.”

You bet your bippy it’s going to have a “big impact,” Ed.

And not just on roads and water. . .

So – absent strapping every man, woman and child in Volusia County with a money grubbing half-cent sales tax increase – exactly what are you and the rest of those dullards we elected to represent our interests doing to ensure this massive growth pays for itself?

This summer, we will all be regaled with flashlight-under-the-chin scary stories from our elected and appointed officials warning of the traffic gridlock – and the horror of drinking our own wastewater – if we don’t vote to increase our sales tax, even as they refuse to even discuss impact fees, much less consider a moratorium on unchecked development.

You want to know what frightens me?

In 2016, the Volusia County Professional Firefighters Association, a public employee union representing fire and emergency medical personnel, sent a letter to County Manager Jim Dinneen and the Volusia County Council warning that staffing shortages were limiting their ability to provide ambulance transport service to the nearly 80,000 calls-for-service received each year.

“It has now become normal to be at a patient’s side for 15, 30 and even 40 minutes or more, waiting for an ambulance to arrive,” the letter said. 

When the serious concerns of our first responders were met with deaf ears in Deland, in February, WFTV reporter Mike Springer combed through reams of data and determined that the response times for Volusia County emergency services have been slowly increasing year-over-year.

That’s serious.

In one of the worst displays of arrogance ever captured, when Springer attempted to interview Mr. Dinneen on camera – he became openly hostile, threw up his little hands and refused to answer legitimate questions, or even attempt to explain his administration’s position on perhaps the most serious issue facing Volusia County residents – before stomping off like the petulant shitheel we’ve come to know.

Adding to the incredibly unprofessional scene was a county mouthpiece repeating, “We’re not making any comments, we’re not making any comments” while running interference as Little Jimmy beat his cowardly exit from the hot zone.

Don’t take my word for it, watch it here:  https://www.wftv.com/news/local/union-volusia-county-ems-understaffed-to-point-of-significant-delays-for-emergency-services/698628791

Astounding.

On the afternoon of April 12th (just two days ago) the emergency services union made an urgent announcement on their social media page warning, “There are currently no available VC EMS aka EVAC ambulances in West Volusia County.” 

You read that right:  On Thursday afternoon there were no ambulances available in West Volusia.

Scary?  You ain’t seen nothing yet.

Within the last hour of this posting, the Volusia County Professional Firefighters Association announced:

*Announcement* Due to no available VC EMS aka EVAC ambulances in west Volusia County, both Rescue Engine 44 (Pierson) and Deltona Firefighters Rescue 61 are currently being used as transport units. RE44 is the transport unit for a medical call in DeLeon Springs.  (Saturday, April 14, 2018, approximately 9:40am)

That’s today – as in, “Right Now.”

What can we do?

Pray and hope for the best, I guess. . .

Or call your county council member and raise primordial hell until something – anything – happens to change this incredibly dangerous situation.

Much of what I write on this blog represents the everyday blunders, mistakes, faults, foibles and fuck-ups of a county government with no real leadership or accountability – and I realize Barker’s View can take on the appearance of a wacky blooper reel exposing one convoluted, almost comical mess after another.

But this is something else.

Ladies and gentlemen – if your family needs emergency medical services this morning, this afternoon, or next week – time is of the essence – and it doesn’t matter how good our local trauma center is if a patient can’t be transported there in time for doctors to make a difference.

We’re talking life-and-death here.

How many people will die before our elected officials come to the realization that another critical county service has gone haywire on Mr. Dinneen’s watch?

I’m asking.  Because the place seems to be on autopilot.

While Mr. Dinneen remains employed by keeping our elected officials laser-focused on approving massive “economic development” incentives, tax breaks and infrastructure improvements to meet the insatiable appetite of their uber-wealthy campaign sugar daddies – council members seem frighteningly paralyzed – or painfully oblivious – when it comes to meeting the serious needs of their constituents.

Like ensuring the effectiveness of emergency medical and ambulance services to over 500,000 people.

My God.  And these do-nothing assholes have the gall to stand for re-election? 

I’m sorry, but how do they look at themselves in a mirror?

I mean, their own families – and ours – depend on this essential service, right? 

In all honesty, if County Manager Jim Dinneen is unwilling or incapable of effectively managing this acute emergency – a problem that our brave first responders are shouting from the rooftops to expose – then he should step down immediately and make way for someone with the administrative and leadership skills to ensure the safety of Volusia County residents.

And – perhaps more important –  if our elected officials don’t have the political guts to ensure these essential life-saving services – it’s high-time they step aside for someone who will.

 

 

Photo Credit: The Daytona Beach News-Journal

 

17 thoughts on “On Volusia: A Matter of Life and Death

  1. Now Chief, you and I both know that demand for emergency services is inverse to socio-economic status. This trend of cutting services and programs used primarily by the poor isn’t just local, it’s worldwide, wether it’s universal health insurance, funding for public schools, or Medicare. Since the distribution of wealth is now more unequal than at any time since the days of the robber barons, why shouldn’t the oligarchs keep the money for themselves and not “waste” it on us plebians? In firefighting, one of early fireground decisions is called “writing off lost property”. How does it feel to be lost property?

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    1. I think the fact that our county administrators keep giving huge amounts of our tax money to developers and not requiring the proper infrastructure/ impact fees is a direct impact on the critical shortage of EMS, proper wages for first responders, law enforcement ect ect. There needs to be a total overhaul of the Volusia County administration….

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  2. Who can we be writing to, to get this changed? How can we citizens of Volusia County be heard and demand this be fixed? We definitely need more EMS and who allows these developers to build when the already overtaxed schools, roads, hospitals and First Responders will be more overwhelmed? If we don’t do something soon, we are putting us all in danger. But lets keep blaming the EMS and not look at the root cause. We ALL need to act on this NOW. It impacts ALL OF US in Volusia County!

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  3. This will only continue to get worse until cities band together and demand more from the 2 tier system or we go to a 1 tier system like the majority of other local and county governments and invest in more personnel. The equipment is in place. VC EMS currently has the ability to put 35 plus trucks out everyday. But instead they choose to put out 19-21 during the day and cuts back to 10-11 at night. Those numbers are provided everyone shows up for work. If the system was working like it should we wouldn’t be having this conversation. The FDs don’t want to take on the extra burden of transport but it’s the right thing to do for the citizens of its cities when the county run EMS system refuses to fix an obvious problem. It won’t fix everything because no system is fail proof(remember the titanic) but you will reign in some of these extended delays along with a better continuity of care to the patients as a whole, one paramedic from beginning to end of the call with the patient.
    The agency I currently work for is the busiest FD in the county. We are currently running with staffing level from the 90s and our call volume has increased at least 2 times that of 1998. Yet we are asked to do more with less. The EMS system is a disaster and instead of doing things to fix it, the small hand white collared people continue to make excuses and the general public just swallows it and says what can I do to change it?. Get involved because when you have to dial 911 you don’t want to hope a transport will show up in a timely manner to get you from point A to point B. Let the VC EMS system go back to “Evac” and let them do the inter facility transfers. That is where the guarrenttee D money is. They seem to take trucks out of the system repeatedly during the day to do these instead of answering the calls for help. Remember that because you and I don’t think it might be an emergency, doesn’t mean it’s not to the person who dialed 911 for help. Let’s stop having repeated isolated incidents and call it what it is…
    Volusia wants to grow and become a player in the game but yet they do not want to invest in the things that come with doing that like public safety, critical infrastructure and the school system that needs to be put into place. They do however continue to collect the money and give the tax breaks to those who are worrhy.
    I was one of those people who were involved in the development of the letter in 2016 and I signed that letter in hopes it would help. Well I guess I was wrong to think that the troops on the ground that are dealing with the issues daily would actually have a opinion that mattered.

    That’s what I get for thinking….I’m just a dumb firefighter!

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  4. The management of VCEMS aka EVAC (Director Mr. Zaragoza and Ambulance Operations Manager M. Semple to name a few) is also to blame in this problem (I believe) I’m a former employee of VCEMS and loved my job I thoroughly enjoyed what I did and believed I was in a great place, but thanks to the management and their poor management skills who choose to play favoritism I was fired for no reason, only reason giving was that I didn’t meet probation standards…mind you I was NEVER made aware I was doing anything wrong. Management has very poor communication skills who only care about the money and keeping the council happy so they in turn help contribute to this disaster. I’m not bashing the EMTs and paramedics who work extremely hard to do their job and deserve so much more and fairness. I’m on their side and hope this problem can be resolved.

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  5. Mark,
    Just a reminder that both Margaritaville & Mosaic homes will each be over $200,000. Many will be in the $300,000-$500,000 range. Currently over 50% of Volusia County residents pay ZERO or little (under $1000 per YEAR) property tax. Both Margaritaville & Mosaic homeowners will bring in revenue!

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      1. You think a retirement community will have little demand on EMS services …. you don’t know what you’re talking about. Because older people don’t take ambulances to the hospital , right. These people aren’t going to be drinking water or driving on our streets either . Man, you are not using your head.

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  6. It is not just EMS. Lets not forget that the County hired the GS4 company to do front door security due to personnel shortages with the Sheriff’s Office.

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  7. What I do not understand is why the City of Daytona Beach isn’t speaking up for us? Is there some taboo against the city going to bat for its residents and its employees, the fire fighters?

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  8. I work for a local hospital. The demand that is placed on all aspects of our facilities is unreal and unsafe. You look at the websites for these facilities it says there are 112 beds in the hospital but when the census hits 87 there is not an available bed in the hospital. The patient sometimes has to wait in excess of 24 hours in the ER before they get a bed upstairs. This backs up the ER and at times EVAC has to wait in the hallway for up to 20 min for there to be a stretcher to drop off their patient. This directly takes another unit out of call for the already stressed system. Something has to be done to make these facilities safe for patients and the nurses and doctors caring for them.

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  9. Most of the city fire department and already helping VCEMS with transporting patients. May of the department have more than one rescue however we are only allowed to help out in this stupid PLUS program. Its a plus for VC because were helping out and only collecting little. The cities would collect more for their communities if they were allowed to have a third party billing; but no VC says tough shit, use our billing. The county will not give up ambulance transport to the cities; with that said I think all the fire departments should back out of this disastrous program and force the county to put on units. But even then their employees are a revolving door due to shitty work conditions. Who the heck wants to sit in an ambulance on the side of the road for 12 hours? VCEMS brass do not care about these conditions. Overworked and shitty conditions make for poor attitudes and poor performance; there is no incentive for their employees to stay and deal with these conditions.

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