I believe that your self-education on, and then involvement in, the future of Idyllwild Fire’s dispatch services is critical to all of us who reside and visit the Hill communities.

The current dispatch service with Riverside County Fire is a superior service and offers a vital skill our rural communities can’t afford to lose. That skill is the ability for dispatchers to give medical advice to victims and those with them while waiting for emergency personnel to arrive.

That advice includes CPR training.

Charles I. Wilmer, cardiologist at Piedmont Heart Institute in Atlanta, said, “It is very important to get quick treatment for a heart attack because every minute counts. Thousands of heart cells die every minute the blood flow is stopped in the coronary artery. Interestingly, in the first 20 minutes of time when an artery is blocked, the cells become ‘ischemic’ or sick. If the blood flow can be restarted within the first 20 minutes of a blockage occurring, the cells can recover almost universally. However, after 20 minutes cellular death occurs and as noted above, thousands of cells will die every minute after that 20-minute period until the blood flow can be restarted.”

Only Riverside County Fire and the cities of Riverside and Corona should be considered for Idyllwild Fire’s dispatch service since they are the only ones offering medically trained dispatchers, not just people who send out an ambulance. If you live off a dirt road in a rural part of one of our communities, those few minutes on the phone while your child is choking or your spouse is experiencing symptoms of a heart attack could save your loved one’s life.

Idyllwild Fire should not risk our lives just to save money. Let’s all make our voices heard on this matter and because we are isolated in the backwoods with no hospital, we especially shouldn’t be backwards in our approach to emergency medical care.