Letters to the Editor 6/19

June 20, 2003

Isn't shelter more important than brick sidewalks?

To the editor:

A riddle for Hagerstown City Councilmember Lewis C. Metzner, who was recently quoted as saying that "a homeless shelter in downtown Hagerstown is unacceptable":

If a homeless shelter is constructed outside the city and no one comes, is compassionate help really being offered?

For faith-based initiatives like REACH and the congregations that support it, compassionate outreach is centered at the place of need. In the case of area homeless persons and families, that place is downtown Hagerstown.

It's not a situation of "attracting" homeless persons there through the construction of a shelter; it's simply meeting a vital need where the recipients of that need currently are located. Before its relocation to "the suburbs" the YMCA helped meet that need - and I don't recall the police chief, council members or area businesses having a problem with its location in serving those who would otherwise be homeless.


I fail to understand then why the proposed REACH shelter with a more intentional ministry to the homeless should be considered "unacceptable."

A radical thought: Giving food to the hungry, clothing to the naked and shelter to the homeless may in the long run actually be more urgent priorities than bricking downtown crosswalks! I applaud REACH for its caring service to the community, and I urge the Council to work with REACH in finding a mutually agreeable downtown site for a shelter.

Pastor David Kaplan


Jefferson dispatch does us proud

To the editor:

The citizens of Jefferson County, W.Va., can be very proud of the Emergency Communications Center (EIC) staff for the accreditation they were recently awarded as an Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) Center of Excellence.

Jefferson County is the first ECC in West Virginia and only the 82nd in the world to earn this award among 3,500-plus centers using the Medical Priority Dispatch System. Jeff Polczynski, director, and Dr. Robert Jones, medical director, deserve much of the credit.

They have demanded a high compliance to the standards since the program began two years ago. This award indicates that the dispatchers have responded excellently. Application for this award was made only after these high standards had been reached for many months.

For the public, this means that when they call 911 with a medical emergency, they know that they are getting good instructions for treatment until help arrives. For the paramedics and EMTs, this means that we are getting reliable information about the patient and any changes in their condition prior to our arrival.

Emergency dispatchers live in "audio glass houses." Everything they say and hear on the telephone and radio is recorded for potential review.

Random EMD recordings for each dispatcher are critically reviewed using a standard format. A 95 percent compliance to protocol must be maintained. Dispatchers are on duty 24/7.

When we are at work, recreating, sitting at the table with our family enjoying Christmas dinner, or warm in bed during a winter storm, they are only a 911 phone call away.

Henry Christie, president

Jefferson County

Fire and Rescue Association

Charles Town, W.Va.

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