Making Friendswood Stronger… Stronger Fire and EMS

In these waning days of the campaign when political rhetoric tends to be heated, I think one thing on which we all can agree is that we have, hands-down, the best Fire and EMS first responders in the entire country. When I tell people in neighboring communities and even in our own community that our EMS is FREE, they can’t believe it. Friendswood, did you know if our city EMS responds to your emergency, not only will they save your life but they won’t charge you for it? That is astonishing, and a fact that has gone long unappreciated. Do you know how many long and tiring hours the Fire Dept put in saving people after Harvey…working hours and hours and days and days with no rest, no food, and even while their own homes were flooding?! I have made three visits to the Fire Dept now, and I strongly encourage you to do the same. Go, hear, and respect their stories. Hindsight is always 20/20 and I have stated clearly the city has room for improvement in implementing a disaster response. These guys and gals took an imperfect plan and took heroic and decisive action, doing the absolute best they could. They have taken unjust and unfair criticism and received too little praise.

Last night, I was fortunate to meet with some of our EMS and Fire service men and women. One thing I am committed to do as your Mayor is to listen to the voice of the people. I listened last night. I have been thinking about it a lot and this is what I heard many of you say. Last year when a tax was debated, the Downtown District was prioritized over public safety. That hurt. Then you responded during Harvey, doing the best you could in such dire circumstances, and you have taken criticism for your response. In the meantime, you and your families have been in limbo for more than a year waiting to see what will be done with EMS. You love your jobs, you love the way the system works and you want the service to remain the same. You support downtown development but seeing $400k of tax money prioritized to remove telephone poles is hard to take. It hurts to hear so much discussion about raising $2.5 million for a carousel when your livelihood and the very lives of our fellow Friendswoodians are at stake. You are wondering about the city’s priorities. I hear you loud and clear.

The primary responsibility of city government is to ensure the safety of its residents. We need to be proactive in determining strategies to ensure quality medical and emergency services are readily accessible for our citizens in a fiscally responsible way. My goal would be to facilitate a resolution of a community solution, with your voice of experience and authority being encouraged and respected. We have many options on the table and I am committed to facilitating one which satisfies the emergency responders, the needs of the community, and the fiduciary responsibility of the Council. Going for outside bids that come back at $1 is wasting time. I am not in favor of outsourcing this critical service. Why would we give up the finest service available? I am confident we can find a solution to fund the service while maintaining the volunteer and giving spirit in the community that sets Friendswood apart. We can work together to Make Friendswood Stronger.

God Bless,
Omar