Mercer Island Reporter


Letter | Minutes matter

October 18, 2012 · 9:33 AM

When I was asked to assist with the South end fire station capital Levy, I must admit I was enjoying my new life as a recovering elected official; however, I felt very strongly there are some issues that are so important to our community that I could not step away from this request.

For over 10 years, the City Council has been discussing the deficiencies of the South end station, hoping that no major event would occur that would render the station non-responsive to our community’s needs at the time of a major disaster. Was there risk in our past inaction … yes. What degree of risk, I do not know nor can I accurately speculate on the degree of that risk, but there was and is risk. It is now for us to decide what level of risk we are willing to live with.

This levy is about taking action now, rather than living with the risk that our emergency response system could be impacted in the event of a major disaster, as well as correcting the deficiencies within the existing building that are impacting our current emergency response time.

From my work with FEMA, I can say with confidence that all disasters are different and are extremely difficult to predict. I have come to the conclusion that the best defense for a community is an emergency response system that is well equipped and has the flexibility and capacity to respond to the unpredictable nature of emergencies. The proposed South end fire station addresses all of these elements.

Before May 31, 2011, I had a very different understanding and appreciation of our emergency response system; then I suffered a near fatal heart attack. At the time, I was 53 years old, and an avid rower. I was in top physical shape. After rowing practice on May 31, I experienced my heart attack. Due to our emergency response team (a service I never thought I would ever use), I was attended to and rushed to Overlake Hospital. Due to the excellent work by our firefighters, I survived and my heart is virtually undamaged. Only 20 percent of the people who experience my form of heart attack survive, and most of those who do survive live the rest of their lives with severely damaged hearts. In my case, as in most emergencies, minutes meant everything in determining the ultimate outcome of that emergency. Minutes do matter.

The emergency response statistics of our Island firefighters are impressive; however, when it is you or your family in need, it is the one call that matters most to you. If you are as unfortunate as I was on that spring day in 2011, and need to make your one call, you will understand why I chose to serve my community one more time to assist with passing this levy. The South end station needs your support so we can reduce the risk of losing those all-important response minutes in our time of need. I view this levy as a measure of how we look after one another; it is all about community.

Please join me and leaders of our community, moms and dads, and your retired neighbors in support of a system that best prepares us all for that one call. Minutes do matter.

Jim Pearman


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