Recently Firefighters and EMS Fund assisted the citizen-run Oceano 911 Committee with their effort to pass Measure A-20 in Oceano, California. The measure requested local voters to support renewal of the town’s participation in a joint protection agreement with two neighboring cities. Firefighters and EMS Fund reached out and supported their efforts with an in-kind donation of services. Committee Chairwoman Brenda Lowe shares her experience with us:
“I got involved because of the issue of limited staffing. I actually discovered our station was browned out and unavailable to local residents almost a dozen times last year. We received emergency care by our partners but with possibly longer response times.
Only 2 firefighters per shift. It was a real problem to not have adequate staffing even on a good day.
To remain part of the JPA, and to hire one more firefighter we were hoping to pass Measure A-20.
Oceano 911 Committee was run by a group of 10 concerned citizens, with an additional 20 project volunteers. We were a grassroots org that said: we have a serious need here, we need the citizens to put their money where their mouth is.
Just when things were getting down to the wire and we thought we had done all that we could, Nile from Fire and EMS fund called us and took us by surprise. We looked into the organization.
It almost sounded too good to be true- a knowledgeable group with the same motivations to support our cause. The assets you brought were not just money but the knowledge and expertise to target voters. It was like manna from heaven. You found us, if the partnership could have started just a little earlier we could have probably had a different outcome. But it is what it is and we learned what we learned.
People will budget for a new car and all that but to pay for an essential service, it seems people have different priorities. We found that with a little education people did actually support taxing themselves when they realized that the revenue for fire service would be legally required to be used only for that purpose and subject to citizens oversight.
We polled 49% in favor and of course there is a margin for error, but we actually ended up with 66.14%. How can you be so successful and still fail? Many were initially discouraged with the results but we have not given up because fire and emergency services are essential.”
Due to the looming recession as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the town of Oceano has been given until June 2023 to come up with additional funds to remain a member of the Five Cities Fire Authority before the contract expires. The citizens of Oceano can expect fire protection in their area to remain unchanged until then, however extended response times and days without emergency services are a likely possibility if the deadline is reached before Oceano can come up with the resources to remain part of the joint protection agreement (JPA). Firefighters and EMS Fund is honored to have been able to assist in the fight for ongoing fire protection in Oceano, and will gladly help advocate for voter support of emergency services should they decide to go to referendum again.