Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

April 19, 2013

In the House of Wood

You're wrong, Register

Steve Woodhouse

Knoxville —

I’m not sure how many of you saw the section in the Des Moines Sunday Register a couple of weeks ago, which focused on shortcomings of some EMS agents. 

I read that thing, and I’ve got to tell you, I’m a little miffed. First of all, such propaganda, pigeonholing thousands of dedicated, community-minded volunteers, in with the few bad apples across the state, kind of makes the Register look bad. Since the Register is clearly the most visible newspaper in Iowa, it kind of reflects poorly on all of us. For this, I was offended professionally. 

Moreover, I was personally offended because I didn’t care for how volunteer emergency responders were portrayed in the piece. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know some of the volunteers with our local departments and they deserve much better publicity. 

I’m not going to deny that there are probably bad apples in the bunch and I fully support exposing such shortcomings. However, even by the Register’s own reporting, the number of bad apples is only a small percentage of the total volunteer responders in the state. 

For those cases, in which there are issues, the best way to deal with them is through local departments. Fire Chiefs, Police Chiefs, Mayors, City Councils, Township Trustees, Fire Boards, Boards of Supervisors - these are the people who should be weeding undesirable first responders out. It should not be left to any statewide “test” or some overpaid bureaucrat in Des Moines. 

Whether the Register or any other big-government supporter wants to realize it, not every department is made the same. They do not all have the same monetary resources available, equipment or volunteer pool. By that simple measure, most “one-size-fits-all” solutions are not going to help. They are just going to create more problems. 

Look at the differences among our departments here in Marion County. Don’t you think Bussey’s is different from Knoxville’s? Do you see differences between Pella’s and Harvey’s? Locals have run their departments with a level of competence and efficiency for decades. They don’t need a group of know-it-all “journalists” or “state directors” coming in to tell them how to transport a person in need or fight a fire. 

There are areas in which they can improve. I have a scanner and I get concerned when a smaller department needs to be paged out more than once. But these guys stick together. They back each other up, because they all have the same goal of looking out for their friends and neighbors. 

This week’s tragedy in Boston only serves as another reminder of how thankful we all should be to have people willing to step up and deal with emergency situations. Whether they be caused by some scumbag terrorist, act of nature or accidents caused by someone with no evil intentions, there are always going to be these situations and we’re always going to need heroes. 

I don’t know how many of you have seen videos in the moments following the explosions this week. But the videos I saw all had one thing in common - a group of brave individuals walking toward the danger, offering a helping hand and doing whatever they can for those in need. 

I really don’t mean to politicize this event. I mean to celebrate first responders and want to show them the proper respect. 

In my opinion, and you can have yours, it is not a political statement for me to say that there is good in the hearts of the majority of mankind and we will never have to have every positive aspect of human nature legislated.

Take care of yourself and thank you for reading.