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As your Mayor, it is my responsibility to keep all residents fully informed on issues affecting our town. After reading the Citizens for Ponce Inlet Newsletter and the Hometown News, I wanted to explain and clarify some facts regarding the issues being discussed in the campaign for the upcoming Town election.
The first and most important issue is the transporting of patients to area hospitals. Before the town persuaded the County to allow us to transport, a resident’s call to 911 would then prompt dispatch of Town personnel and a County EVAC ambulance. Our personnel would always arrive first and if no transport was required, the EVAC ambulance would be canceled. If transport was required the EVAC ambulance would continue on the call and transport the patient to the hospital. This process caused increased time from initial call to hospital arrival and a possible gap in the continuity of care. This process was required as the County has the exclusive license to transport. Our Town personnel worked very hard to convince the County to allow us to transport under its license and insurance. Ponce Inlet was one of only two cities allowed to transport under the original trial agreement. The trial period proved to be successful and now several other cities have agreements to transport. The agreement with the County has resulted in significantly reduced time from initial call to hospital arrival with no gaps in continuity of care. In addition, the County is responsible for billing the patient and then reimburses the Town for each transport. Therefore, every transport is a source of income for Ponce Inlet.
Our agreement with the County requires that we also transport patients from outside of town if we are the closest ambulance available at the time of the call. Canceling this agreement would also cancel our ability to transport our residents and we would return to the procedure previously described.
There also seems to be some concern about the number of transports required from outside Ponce Inlet. In fact, over the last 18 months there were only 5 months in which out of town transports exceeded those from in town. However, out of town transports have not caused any decrease in service to our residents. During 2019 our Fire Department made 315 transports (61% in town & 39% out of town). That is an average of one transport every 28 hours. In the first six months of this year our Fire Department has made 136 transports (56% in Town & 44% out of town). That equates to an average of one transport every 27 hours.
The second issue being discussed is the public boat ramp and trailer parking. Ponce Inlet owns both facilities. However, we only maintain the trailer parking lot. The boat ramp is totally maintained by other government agencies that are also responsible for dredging to maintain the required channel depth. Ponce Inlet does not expend any funds for the boat ramp so it is unlikely we would be able to give special consideration to residents.
The last issue concerns a proposed digital marquee sign at Town Hall. This could be accomplished with a change to our sign codes. However, such a change to the sign code would allow every business in Ponce Inlet to also have a digital marquee sign.
As always, if you have any other questions or want additional information concerning these or any other issues, I am always available by email (email@example.com) or by phone (386-233-9376). If I am not available when you call, please leave a voice message and I will return your call as soon as possible.
Gary Smith, Mayor