Voices From The Readers – November 11, 2016

Voices From The Readers – November 11, 2016

Response To Candidates On Schedule Changes


I write in response to the recent positions set out by Ocean City Council candidates who were asked about the town’s position on 24-hour shifts for fire/EMS personnel of the Fire Department, “Council Candidates Weigh In On Performing Arts Center, Union Stalemate, Hotel Boom.” Many of the candidates stood by the town’s position to eliminate 24-hour shifts and impose a unique shift structure. In that regard, the candidates have staked out a position that runs contrary to the prevailing wisdom throughout the state and throughout the professional fire service nationally. The town ought to continue traditional staffing. The town does not face such unique issues and should not impose a unique and novel shift structure, as it intends now.

Ocean City is undoubtedly wonderful and unique. We are unique because of the character of our boardwalk, the contours of our beach, and all our great shops, and restaurants, and bars. We are unique because our town is the source of cherished memories for residents and for thousands of visitors from Maryland and throughout the region. There is no place like Ocean City.

But Ocean City is also like many other Maryland towns and cities. Ocean City’s calls for emergency services, many of which are handled by the Fire Department, are like the calls for emergency services throughout Maryland. They are calls for motor vehicle accidents, rescue services, medical emergencies, building fires, hazardous spills, and all manner of events that endanger life and property. While the Fire Department responds to all these events, few of the calls are for fires. Indeed, the U.S. Fire Administration reports that nationally fires account for just 8.2% of the runs made by fire department personnel. The majority of runs – both nationally and locally – are for emergency medical services and rescues. The majority of runs both nationally and locally – occur during the day. Ocean City is not unique in these, and other, regards.

Nor is Ocean City unique in how our Fire Department is staffed. Fire/EMS personnel work 24-hour shifts. The majority of fire departments in the State, including Salisbury, Annapolis, Howard County, Anne Arundel County, and Montgomery County, and nationally utilize 24-hour shifts. Twenty-four hour shifts do not mean fire/EMS personnel go without rest for 24 hours at a time; it means they are preparing and ready to respond to calls for 24 hours.

Ocean City’s officeholders and candidates, like political leaders throughout the State and country, want to ensure that emergency calls are met with a fast and ready response. Earlier this year, the Town’s leadership proposed to eliminate 24-hour shifts. They argued that 24-hour shifts are unsafe and result in delayed responses. They argued that Ocean City is unique and that a unique shift structure – working twelve-hour night shifts for four months at a time, followed by twelve-hour day shifts for four months – was the solution. It is not.

The most unique aspect of Ocean City that bears on fire/EMS staffing is the large number of visitors that arrive each year during the summer months. That is unlike any other jurisdiction in the State. That may be worthy of consideration in how fire/EMS personnel shifts are structured. But the town’s proposal is not limited to, or aimed at, that issue. The town’s proposal is to eliminate, permanently, the shift structure that keeps most Marylanders safe, and to instead proceed in a manner like no other.

Ocean City fire/EMS personnel do an outstanding job. And they always strive to do an even better job. But the fact of the matter is that twenty-four shifts are safe and provide fast and ready responses for Marylanders when they are visiting Ocean City and when they are home in Columbia or Rockville or Severna Park.

The union is prepared to resume negotiations with the town and its elected officials. But our elected officials ought to proceed with a respect for, and appreciation of, how and why 24-hour shifts are utilized in the state to keep millions safe. If any change to that shift-structure is due, is must be limited and measured.

Ryan Whittington

Ocean City

(The writer is the president of the Career Fire Fighter Paramedics Association of Ocean City, IAFF, Local 4269.)

Donation Recognized


Community Cats Coalition would like to take this time to give a Hugh “thank uou” to the Berlin Home Depot for their generous donation of building supplies to help us finish our new cat shelter. A special thanks to William and to Tammy.

Community Cats Coaltion

Thanks For Election Help


On behalf of all the county election judges who worked the primary elections at the Ocean City Convention Center, I would like to thank Layton’s Restaurant and Andrew Hanna of the Dough Roller Restaurant (41st Street) for their continued dedication and concern in seeing that all our election judges had something to eat.

The efforts and kindness of these restaurants helped to make our day more bearable. We could not have been more thankful for their efforts.

Russell Colley

Ocean City

(The writer serves as the chief judge for the Ocean City election.)