Coming to the Rescue
April 5, 2010 2:26 PM
Today Madison has another paramedic ambulance in its fleet. We're up to eight now. There were six when I took office.
Adding an ambulance is a big commitment. It's not just the physical rig itself, which runs about $205,000. It's also the operating commitment of $950,000 for nine firefighter paramedics to staff it around the clock, new equipment for those firefighters and training. I planned to create an eighth ambulance crew in my budget a couple of years ago when times were better. So why did I keep that commitment even in a budget as tight as the one we've got this year?
Because it gives us a chance to save more lives. Eighty percent of calls to our fire department are paramedic calls. Our goal is to get to a person in need within five minutes, and the new ambulance increases the chances that that will happen. As our city grows physically, there's just no substitute to having a fully staffed advanced life support ambulance ready to go in closer proximity to your neighborhood.
To give us that greater reach we've added two new fire stations in the same time we've added the new ambulances. That investment is paying off in ways that are predictable and in ways that you might not have thought about. We are now going on our third year without a single fire fatality, and we recently found out that Madison is in a top tier when it comes to fire safety as rated by insurance companies. That means insurance ratepayers in Madison pay less than they would in most other places because the risk here is also less.
So, you might not think about an investment in a new ambulance as an economic development strategy. But to the extent that businesses in our city need to pay less for their property insurance it gives us one not insignificant competitive advantage, and it's another good reason to make that investment even in a recession.