Thank Goodness for Government

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SFD Medic 18At exactly this minute—17 minutes and 43 seconds past eight o'clock in the morning—one week ago today, the alarm sounded at Fire Station 18 in Ballard and Seattle firefighters jumped into action and headed for their rigs.

They were on their way to bring my friend, Dave Carlstrom, back from the dead.

Dave is a 30-year-plus friend.  The world wouldn't be the same without him.  He's funny, loud, insightful, incredibly deep and interested in way more than most.  He regularly travels to Uganda to manage a not-for-profit organization that supports humanitarian programs with "last mile" air transportation.  He's a marketing genius who very successfully promoted the Fairbanks International Airport for nearly 18 years.  He's a soul mate who can discuss the finer points of capitalism, government regulation, politics, theology and social justice.  He might even admit in a quieter moment that he's tempted by radical movements that focus on human dignity and worth.  He's the life of a party.

And, one or two minutes before 8:17:43 a.m. last Thursday morning Dave dropped dead after a racquetball match at an athletic club in Ballard.  He experienced sudden cardiac arrest; his electrical system and heart shut down in an instant, like a massive power failure.  He was finished.  Done.  Gone.

Staff members at the Ballard club—LA Fitness—immediately started CPR and used a portable defibrillator to restore Dave's heartbeat.  (If you don't have one of these little magic machines in your office, or place of worship, or community center, or club or gym, get one today!)

Seattle firefighters arrived in less than four minutes and performed their magic.  David is alive today because of the LA Fitness staff members who were well trained and equipped—and acted on their training!—and because of our firefighters' world renowned emergency medical response capabilities.

I tell this story because it was a wallop of a reminder about my long and valued friendship with Dave, but it was also a keen reminder about the importance of government.  Thank goodness for Seattle government leaders and doctors at Harborview back in the late 1960s who had the foresight to establish Medic One and to mandate that our Fire Department would forever be the primary emergency medical response service in our city.

We can all use a reminder about the value of govenment (and those we love!).  There are powerful voices around the country preaching anti-government gibberish—the government is the problem, privatize this part, do away with this.  It's an ill informed diatribe against government that is truly not in the long-term best interests of our democracy. Thankfully, there are alternative voices, too. 

I'm very grateful my friend, Dave, is alive and well today.  And I'm also very thankful for high quality government services like those we receive every day from our firefighters. 

Government is good and plays an important role in making our lives better.  That's a story we need to keep telling over and over.