Well, the topic for this month is probably no surprise to anyone. On September 21st the Sumter County Commissioners voted unanimously to transfer the responsibility of medical transportation to the two fire departments who provide coverage to Sumter County.

Then, on October 12th the Sumter County Commissioners voted to proceed with the process of establishing an independent fire district.  This will also require legislative action as well as a county referendum vote in the future.

In my mind, this decision was a no-brainer.  Leading up to this decision was a huge waste of time and effort that led to the formation of an ad hoc committee that was given a list of ten options to consider, five of which would have eliminated our Villages Public Safety Department (VPSD) – what most people recognize as OUR FIRE DEPARTMENT.

The public outcry was as one might expect, and what I had hoped for and fully supported. While many of us felt very frustrated, disappointed, angered, and perhaps many other adjectives, by this process, the process was not all negative.  In fact, the result was positive votes by the commissioners.  But even more significant and heartwarming was the support of our community for our fire department.

As a former chief officer in two career fire departments and the chief of a state law enforcement agency, I can tell you the outpouring of support was a morale booster for the department, from the newest member to the chief.

Chief Cane as well as Chief Tucker before him, have developed this (our) department into a well-run organization, achieving an ISO Class 2 rating and are working to become a Class 1 department (which translates into lower insurance costs) as well as working on other professional achievements.  But aside from these professional and important recognitions, the department has in place other customer service programs that benefit us all.  These include AED and CPR training and program direction, smoke and carbon monoxide detector battery replacement and device replacement. These programs did not begin in response to the threat of the dismantling of the department.  They have evolved over the years – as part of the culture or the DNA of the department. 

As an example of The Villages Public Safety Department’s commitment to customer service, consider this – during one incident while the fire department paramedics were treating and keeping a patient alive during an extensive wait for an ambulance to arrive, Chief Cane (in his white uniform shirt and shiny shoes) went out and finished mowing the lawn at the home.  He did that because that was what the patient was doing when he had his medical emergency, and the chief didn’t want the family to have to look out to see the unfinished mowing that would be a reminder of this incident.  No wonder we are grateful for and supportive of our fire department!

We look forward to a smooth transition and a higher level of service as the department transitions into taking on this new level of responsibility.   

Stay safe and healthy,
John Dean, Vice President