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February 13, 2020 – What is the value of time? It’s hard to measure, but when saving your life and your property depends on having more time rather than less, most people would probably want more.

Voters in the Higgins Fire District have a chance, once again, to decide if they are willing to pay for more time, i.e., for the availability of people and equipment to save their lives, and protect their property, in situations where every minute counts.

What’s the difference between faster and slower response times? Here are some figures:

  • The Federal Communications Commission estimates that 10,000 lives [nationwide] could be saved annually if emergency responders could get to 911 callers just one minute faster, and that figure could be vastly conservative. (Source: “Losing Laura,” in Feb 2020 Readers Digest, reprinted from a Nov. 3, 2018 Boston Globe article)

    There are just over 3,000 counties and county-equivalents in the United States. This means that, on average, the lives of at least three Nevada County residents could be saved each year if emergency responders could get to 911 callers just one minute faster. With the District responding to around 1,200 medical calls per year, one of those three residents saved could be you, or a loved one. (And it seems logical that even more locals could be saved if the response time was shaved by more than just one minute.)
  • Let’s say you don’t die due to a slow 911 response, but instead you have a stroke. According to ScienceDaily.com, “From the moment a person starts to experience stroke symptoms, the clock starts ticking. Every minute that passes can make a difference in how well their brain, arms, legs, speech or thinking ability recover.”

    Approximately two million brain cells (neurons) are lost for each minute of delay in restoring blood flow after a stroke. I don’t know about you, but I can tell I’ve already lost brain cells in the past few years just from aging, and I sure wouldn’t want to lose any more than I have to.
  • Stroke patients who receive treatment in the first hour have the best chance for surviving AND for preventing permanent, long-term disability. According to Higgins Fire Chief Jerry Good, it currently takes 15 to 20 minutes to get a fire engine out to the Dog Bar area. So, if it takes 15 minutes for them to just get there, and then they have to stabilize you, get you on the stretcher and into the van for the long ride to hospital, what does that say about your chances of returning home to a roughly equivalent quality of life?

Of course, it’s not just about your health. Minutes count for fire response, too. Consider these numbers:

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  • Fire can travel quickly: up to 6 miles per hour in forests and up to 14 miles per hour in grasslands. (Source: Forbes.com, “The Terrifying Physics of How Wildfires Spread So Fast.”) The grassland fire number translates to 88 feet per minute. Even if you have the recommended 100 feet of defensible space around your house, the flying embers that blow ahead of the fire front will get to your house faster than the fire engines.
  • The above speeds are on flat ground. If you have an upward slope on or near your property, the fire will move even faster. An extra 10 degrees of slope will double the speed of the fire.
  • Stopping fire sooner rather than later within the Higgins district means a better chance of preventing its spread to the outside the district. We can’t expect Higgins voters to care about the rest of us, but since we all know that fire doesn’t respect jurisdictional boundaries, many more county residents than just the Higgins voters have a stake in how this vote turns out.

Other supporters of Measure I have pointed how insurance companies notice the lack of adequate fire protection coverage in the Higgins Fire District (in other words., it takes too many minutes for the engines to get to the fire) and have raised homeowners insurance far more than this new tax would cost.

So, Higgins voters, what do you want, and how fast do you want it? How can it not be worth $20 per month to add paramedic services at every station, re-open the Dog Bar station, plus other improvements?

Are you aware that Measure I caps any future increases at 2.9%, limiting your tax exposure over the long-term?

Just as every minute counts, every single vote counts. Please vote, and vote Yes on Measure I.