Lawmen and medical personnel must scramble to protect weekend warriors
Flashing red and blue lights may be the last thing someone wants to see in the rearview mirror after making an illegal left turn, but they are a godsend when an outdoor adventure turns into an emergency. Already this summer, Summit County deputies, city policemen, firemen and emergency medical have had their hands full rescuing weekend warriors from their own mischief.
As the weather warms, more boaters, campers, cyclists, climbers, jet skiers and ATVers will be heading to local reservoirs and trails, and that likely means the county dispatch radios will be crackling with activity.
Last winter, during the county’s annual budget review, Sheriff Dave Edmunds asked the Summit County Commission for funding to increase his officers’ staff. After some fussing, the commissioners relented, giving Edmunds some, but not all, of the money he requested.
When the dust settled, the sheriff was able to hire two additional deputies and a school resource officer.
If the commissioners have any doubts about whether that money was well spent they need only listen to a sampling of the calls coming into county dispatch on a typical summer afternoon. A child falls into a campfire, a deputy responds and directs an ambulance to the scene. A motorcyclist crashes on the scenic highway above Woodland, county officers respond and call for a medical helicopter. A family capsizes their boat at Echo Reservoir, deputies alert Search and Rescue personnel, who stand by until all family members are accounted for. The list goes on 24/7.
Among the 9-1-1 calls reporting accidental emergencies are also those of potentially criminal nature break-ins, reckless drivers and fights. And as Summit County neighborhoods and tourist destinations continue to grow so will the need for additional public safety personnel.
This season is already proving to be a busy one, with packed campgrounds, busy boat docks and jammed highways and, like it or not, the county has a responsibility to pick up the tab for refereeing its playgrounds. The commissioners made the right decision to augment the sheriff’s staff.
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