Letters to the Editor

Thursday's letters to the editor

Stop hiding rescue workers' names from public

If you want to find out how long it takes for a publicly funded Emergency Medical Services crew to respond to a call in South Carolina, forget it.

An obscure state law, passed at the request of DHEC, casts a blanket of secrecy over all EMS information.

Sen. Harvey Peeler is working hard to fix the problem and amend the law, but now another secrecy issue has come up: The S.C. EMS Association wants the names of public EMS responders kept secret until after a peer-review process - if there is one - and its desire for secrecy could stall Sen. Peeler's effort to bring sunlight to EMS information across the state.

The group ignores the fact that if you don't have a responder's name, you can't very well file a complaint, and there won't be a peer review. In the more likely circumstance, you can't thank a responder who did a great job because you won't know a name.

The secrecy problem came up last year after an attorney general's opinion said releasing information was illegal. Since then, officials in Columbia and Beaufort County have refused to release information about how emergency workers responded to a stricken 3-year-old boy in Columbia and a severely beaten man in Beaufort County.

The argument for secrecy is that EMTs would be unfairly targeted for criticism by the public and in the press. The EMS Association has been asked to provide evidence to support this assertion, but has failed to do so.

EMS responders are public servants, and the public deserves to know who they are and how they perform their jobs. Like policemen, they have no legitimate expectation of privacy concerning their professional conduct. The EMS group argues that because nurses' names are confidential, EMTs' names also should be. But this position ignores a state law specifically requiring that nurses, doctors and other health care providers in hospitals wear name badges so they can be identified.

The issue is not public access to medical or treatment records relating to patients - which would remain private under Sen. Peeler's bill - but access to information regarding the performance of EMS units. Public oversight of EMS activity is vital. Our legislators need to get behind Sen. Peeler's effort to repeal the current law barring public review of emergency medical services, and defeat amendments keeping the names of responders secret.

BILL ROGERS

Executive Director

S.C. Press Association

Columbia

Opening meetings are not witch hunts

On Monday, Paul DuPre accused Chapin parent Kim Murphy of being on a witch hunt for offering to videotape board meetings and provide them to the district free of charge ("Sun already shines on District 5 government"). Murphy had portrayed her video recordings as a way for citizens to cut through the rhetoric on both sides and make decisions for themselves.

DuPre stated that there are already audio accounts of meetings, but he left out that there have been numerous instances of "gaps" in the audio recordings, particularly on sensitive subjects. Utilizing video, rather than audio, would make it less likely that these "gaps" occur.

Also, the changes being made to the school-construction projects approved by voters in 2008 are not available in the board briefs and minutes, and many taxpayers are in the dark about those changes.

I'd like to express my support for making video recordings of meetings available. While it's understandable that District 5 doesn't offer video recordings, what is hard to understand is why someone would so vehemently oppose it. Citizens who want to encourage greater participation in government should never be told they are on a "witch hunt."

WAYNE DUNCAN

Chapin

Workers needed to keep U.S. boat afloat

To continue Ed Aylward's metaphor of society being a community all in one boat ("The government and 'Christian values,'" Feb. 11), I would ask whom he feels is rowing that boat and keeping it adrift?

The problem we are encountering in this society is not, as he suggested, Christians on the right being uncaring and hypocritical, but the constantly expanding the role of government and stretching our tax dollars to the limit to pay for ever-increasing services for an ever-increasing population.

If the moneymakers and the taxpayers who keep the ship of our society afloat were to stop rowing, who do you think will take over that job? Who will provide the economic base to keep paying for these social programs? I believe that it is also said in 2 Thessalonians, "if anyone will not work, neither shall he eat; there are those that walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all."

STEVEN SCHUMPERT

Columbia

I'm with the men on this one

When the Sanford scandal first broke I was proud of how Mrs. Sanford conducted herself. She refused to stand by her man, whisked her children away and refused to be drawn into the controversy. I was angry at the media for hounding her, especially when she was out with her children and family. I thought she was showing a great deal of class and grace under pressure.

No longer.

With her book and the many national interviews she has been giving, she now appears hypocritical. She wanted to "protect" her children, "shield" her children, but all she's doing is blowing on the flames and subjecting her children to further burns. No matter what she said about writing the book for those who have experienced the same things she has, it appears merely self-serving.

If she wanted to do something cathartic, she should have written it down in a private journal or seen a therapist. I don't know if her true agenda is to get back at her husband, or to make herself out as some heroine, but whatever it is, I have no patience for it.

Mrs. Sanford is no longer very admirable.

DIANE RENKO

Sumter

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