Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk
Who gives a you know what? That was the response of the minority on social media this week after this paper posted a story online about an Ocean City employee using an ambulance to taxi two women carrying unopened packages of alcohol. Misuse of the ambulance is one thing but the fact it took place during the hell that was the Route 50 bridge malfunction takes the malfeasance to another level.
Anyone who was impacted by the traffic nightmare that was caused by the bridge mishap will not soon forget it. It was the so-called “perfect storm” as far as a traffic disaster. It took five hours to close the drawbridge after a mount snapped and had to be repaired on an emergency basis. It took place on a Saturday afternoon in late July, the peak of the tourism season on check-in, check-out day. It happened to occur around the same time as clouds took over and rain began to fall. It happened while City Manager David Recor and Mayor Rick Meehan were out of town, although there is no indication that had any impact on the city’s handling of the matter. As motorists tried to avoid Route 50, several other minor accidents took place on other roads leading to the beach.
It was an absolute mess without a doubt, but an astute reader took exception to an editorial penned last week on how it was the “perfect storm” of bad conditions for Ocean City. He wrote, “I take exception to it being the perfect storm because there were no injuries or deaths from it. Imagine if someone in downtown Ocean City had a heart attack while stuck in traffic or walking along Philadelphia Ave. There would have been no way for EMTs to get there with traffic the way it was.”
The reader was right in this case and that further spotlights how ridiculous it was for a veteran city employee to use a full-service ambulance in such an inappropriate way. What if there was a major incident near where the ambulance picked up the ladies, as seen by a witness? The ambulance reportedly transported the women to another location. It’s unknown if the destination was close, if the lights were ablaze or not during that period and if the women were imbibing within while getting the ride. More details will come out eventually.
Either way it’s inexcusable for this sort of lack of character and misjudgment to ever happen, but particularly during this high-profile bridge malfunction that already has resulted in elevated tempers and concerns over how the matter was communicated to the general public.
Tuesday was a hectic day in Ocean City for first responders, due in large part to the number of injuries associated with the heavy surf from Tropical Storm Bertha.
At one point during Tuesday afternoon, there were no Ocean City paramedic/EMT crews available to respond to incidents and reinforcements had to be called in on an emergency basis from surrounding areas.
Ocean City Communications Manager Jessica Waters explained Ocean City uses the prior year’s emergency data when determining staff for any given day. On Tuesday, the staffing was insufficient to keep up with demand. Therefore, on Wednesday, Waters said the city “upstaffed with the expectation that it may be as busy (or busier) than we were yesterday.”
Wednesday turned out not to be nearly as busy as Tuesday when crews from Berlin and Sussex County had to come in to help Ocean City out. It’s an unusual scenario outside of when a major fire is taking place and neighboring companies are called in the event that another incident needs attention.
“It is not common for us to ask for assistance from our allied agencies for EMS services, but we do have to rely on them on occasion. Yesterday was a true example of the importance of mutual aid agreements and how critical it is to work closely with our partners in other areas, as well as our private sector partners,” Waters said. “With a large number of beach related injury calls, yesterday was a true demonstration of teamwork by both Town of Ocean City public safety personnel and our partners in neighboring districts.”
It may seem like a no-brainer to most, but nonetheless it’s welcome news to hear the State Highway Administration is confident enough in the temporary repairs made to the Route 50 Bridge last month that the long-term project will be put off till the fall or winter months.
It’s certainly common sense, but it’s not unheard of for road projects to take place in the busy months around here. Traffic over the bridge will need to be restricted for a certain amount of time to execute the permanent repairs.
A common headache throughout this summer in Ocean City for police has apparently been skateboarding on the Boardwalk.
Skateboarding is legal on the streets of Ocean City from October to April and illegal the remainder of the year. However, in 2012, from April through September, skateboards began being allowed from 2-11 a.m. on the Boardwalk to mix in with the bikes so long as they are being used for transportation purposes. That change was celebrated by the local skate community.
The problem is a significant amount of skaters are not heeding the law and some are apparently giving the police a hard time when they are notified of the law and asked to move on if past 11 in the morning or are performing tricks during the allowed time.
The ordinance needs tweaking because police are struggling with this issue. The town’s Police Commission is expected to hear proposed changes from the police department at next month’s meeting.