Much gratitude is due Dawn Sonnier for conceiving of the playground project, finding the money and organizing the construction.

Many “Thank yous” to all the people who helped complete this project, thousands of youngsters today and tomorrow will be very happy because of your contributions.

As noted last week, Idyllwild’s civic duty extends in many directions. Although the water and fire special districts are offical public agencies, much of the civic work on the Hill is organized and done through private organizations, such as the Associates of Idyllwild Arts, and their volunteers.

ARF is currently in the forefront (with the mayoral election), MDP and the Woodies are active year-round. All the festivals are other examples.

This interest and commitment is manifested in a variety of ways. Just one is the community’s willingness to vote in elections — national, state, county or local.

Last week, the primary election had a dismal statewide and county turnout, but once again, the turnout on the Hill exceeded the county and state’s percentage of voters by nearly 10 percent.

Whatever the reason, Hill residents participate, contribute and care about the quality of life here. Whether it’s a playground or a seniors’ project, we have neighbors who can form a group to fund and complete almost any project.

This same interest and care seem to be missing when the County Service Area 38 Advisory committee or the Idyllwild Fire Protection District Commission discuss the extension or renewal of the current ambulance contract with the county.

Riverside County contracts with IFPD to provide a 12-minute or less ambulance response to Pine Cove residents instead of the less than 30-minute response, which is the standard in the county’s contract with American Medical Response. This is the reason Pine Cove residents pay IFPD nearly $100,000.

Despite what some say, I believe that everyone involved in this decision cares about what is best for the Hill. Emergency medical care is too important for personal agendas; nevertheless, I also believe the answer to what is best for the Hill is more complicated than a single number.

The 12-minute response was negotiated years ago. Since then, Riverside County Fire Department has implemented a policy that places at least one paramedic on each of its engines. Station 23 has a paramedic on every shift who can arrive at an incident sooner than IFPD.

If AMR places an ambulance on the Hill, the Master County Contract requires them to respond in less than 30 minutes.

The actual time will depend on where AMR stations its ambulance. Station 23 is a possibility, but there is no assurance now. If the ambulance were housed there, AMR could station it elsewhere on the Hill during the day.

But this would then be a third ambulance on the Hill, assuming IFPD continues to always staff two ambulances. That’s a requirement of the contract with Riverside County, not a department policy. Interim Chief Sherman would not confirm what IFPD might do if the contract were terminated.

A new contract with IFPD will cost more for Pine Cove. Is the faster response time worth it, or is the response less important becasue of proximity of paramedics and will there be additional emergency medical resources on the Hill or will IFPD have to trim and live with a $100,000 reduction?

Riverside County EMS Director Bruce Barton told the CSA 38 committee these were the questions to weigh.

But few citizens have come to the meetings to express their opinion or to learn more.