Pan Am aircraft models, including a B-314 flying boat, top,...

Pan Am aircraft models, including a B-314 flying boat, top, are parked in an exhibit at the Pan Am Museum. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

Put fire services on level playing field

As a longtime fire department emergency medical services provider and former chief of the St. James Fire Department, I want to clarify the need to allow fire districts to bill for services ["Fees for ambulances," News, March 8]. EMS has drastically changed with technology and drugs with the goal of improving medical conditions and saving lives.

The fire departments are the only EMS agencies prohibited from billing, but volunteer ambulance districts and private ambulances are permitted to bill. Your article quoted critics as saying that fire departments would be double-dipping. That is far from the truth.

Volunteer ambulance districts bill for services even though they are tax-supported. Private ambulances bill for services with many of them under contract with municipalities using tax dollars. In fact, the volunteer system wants to provide neighbors with the best medical care within the shortest period. Proprietary ambulances want to contract for tax dollars, bill for profit and hire more employees.

The fire service is just asking to be placed on a level playing field with all other EMS agencies. The additional funds will allow fire departments to meet the demands of new equipment, training and staffing.

— David Fischler, Boynton Beach, Florida

The writer retired as commissioner of the Suffolk County Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services.

Gas guzzlers aren’t conserving fuel

Lots of gas-guzzling cars speed along our highways ["Gas tax targeted as prices surge," News, March 10]. We wonder why we are short of natural resources, namely oil. We purchase and drive our autos as if our resources are limitless.

America should wake up and start conserving, or we will pay the price.

— Eugene Reynolds, Ridge

Pan Am Museum piece revives memories

The article "Pan Am lands at home" [act2, March 13] about the airline’s museum in the Cradle of Aviation Museum brought tears to my eyes.

It also brought back so many memories of my father, who was a radio mechanic for Pan Am from 1967 to 1991. Proud doesn’t even come close to describe how my father felt about the company.

He bragged about its safety record, pioneering achievements and wonderful reputation. The airline flew the Beatles to New York and brought home the Vietnam War prisoners of war.

When the company shut down in 1991, it was like a family member had died. He was in mourning, not just for his income, but for his part in the company.

He was buried in 2005 with his Pan Am lapel pin on his suit. Thank you for the memories.

— Kathy Dubuke, Farmingdale

Don’t punish hospitals because of Medicare

Medicare is quick to reduce payment for treatment, but I believe they do a less than adequate job in prevention ["LI hospitals facing stiff penalties from Medicare," News, March 14]. This is especially true regarding medication.

I am both a hospital pharmacist on Long Island and a patient. Among the medications I take is one that costs me zero under my current insurance. But when I retire and switch to Medicare, the cost of that one medication will rise to over $500 a month. With some medications, it’s possible to switch to a different medication within the same class and hold the cost down. But with this medication, there’s currently nothing equivalent, and a generic version is a few years away.

When Medicare refuses to negotiate medication prices to make them affordable for retirees, they are literally guaranteeing high rates of both admission and readmission among vulnerable populations. Hospitals should not have to be punished because Medicare refuses to carry out its mission of making health care affordable for senior citizens.

— Leonard Cohen, Wantagh

Town gives women another step forward

Often, women and minorities are not given the chances in this world that white men get. This standard has changed dramatically, but it still exists in many places. Seeing communities, especially as small as Shelter Island, make an effort to make their communities more inclusive — hiring its first female police officer in more than a decade — is always a great thing ["Badge of honor," Our Towns, March 8].

In the past, women in more demanding jobs, such as police officers or firefighters, were sometimes overlooked, being viewed as weaker than men. Male police officers sometimes appeared more intimidating, yet we know women are fully capable of having these careers.

In today’s changing world, having such a small town that’s not diverse take action against the social norms that plague plenty of the world’s communities is reassuring. This is just one more step in the right direction of equality.

— Rachel Suarez, Shelter Island

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