It is difficult to adequately express my gratitude to the firefighters and other first responders who saved our home from the Cranston Fire. Since we live close to the  transfer station, the fire was very close and, were it not for the hard work of many, our home would be toast.

I believe, however, that there are many who have gone unthanked so, not taking anything away from those on the front lines, I am writing to attempt to remedy that. While there were many firefighters around our property, and flying the helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft above it, there were many people at other locations whose efforts allowed those front-line activities to occur.

When my wife and I drove up the day after the fire started to see if we could do anything to help, we were greeted by acres of workers on the ground adjacent to Lake Hemet. What could have been a logistical nightmare was, in reality, a well-oiled machine. I hesitate to try to identify all of those involved, lest I miss anyone, but there were truck drivers and porta-potty deliverers and cooks and servers and sheriff’s deputies and sanitation engineers and road guards and others who made the small city run.

And behind them were the people who hired and trained the firefighters and those who squeezed out money from tight tax dollars to equip and pay them and worked to bridge the gaps between Idyllwild Fire, Cal Fire, Riverside County Fire and the U.S. Forest Service. Plus, those who identified and arrested the arsonist responsible, preventing him from doing even more damage. And, well, you get the idea.

To summarize, I am grateful to “the government” for saving our home. Having heard comments from several people lately along the lines of “there is nothing that the government does that couldn’t be done better and cheaper by private industry,” here I was faced with a perfect example to refute that idea.

I do not believe privatization of the resources used to battle the Cranston Fire could have been any more efficient. In fact, I believe that inserting a whole bunch of individuals trying to make a profit into that mix would have had disastrous results.

I have been reminded of what is possible when the citizens of this great country get together to accomplish something — the essence of “government.” There are things we must band together to do, including building and maintaining roads, providing healthcare (Medicare, Medicaid, etc.), preventing and fighting fires, providing for public safety and so on.

While there is always room for improvement — and we should always strive to do better — adding a profit motive into the mix seems unlikely to improve anything.

Remember, we have the most powerful tool of all to remedy greed and waste and inefficiency in the government: the ballot box!

We too often get the government we deserve, but if we pay attention and become informed about the issues and the candidates, we just might get more of the government we need. Like the one that was here to fight the Cranston Fire.

Dr. Kluzak, an Idyllwild resident, is board certified in Anatomic Pathology, Obstetrics and Gynecology. He also is a freelance photographer for the Town Crier.