Keizer Fire to seek input on service levels

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Michael DeCoss, right, meets Patricia Ann Ricketts, a registered nurse who helped save his life after he collapsed on a River Road sidewalk. Also honored with Keizer Fire’s Bob Wickman Award were Jennifer Whittecar and Renee Cummins. ( Photo courtesy Kelvin Watkins)

By HERB SWETT
For the Keizertimes

What level of service the public wants will be the subject of meetings the Keizer Fire Department will hold soon with Keizer residents.

“I believe the board needs to earn back the trust of the community,” director Michael Kurtz said at Tuesday night’s board of directors meeting. “I’d like to see informational meetings so the department can develop a model after hearing from the public.”

Director Greg Ego said there may not be enough money for the public to get the level of service it needs, but he urged that the department start working on the matter soon. Board chair Joe Van Meter and Fire Chief Jeff Cowan said the immediate need was preparation of a budget, but Cowan said he was prepared to seek staff recommendations once the budget is resolved.

The board directed Cowan to focus on the budget cycle first and then work with the staff to develop a plan for the informational sessions.

Before the meeting, the department presented the Bob Wickman Award to three people involved in saving the life of a Keizer resident, Michael DeCoss, Feb. 28. The three are Patricia Ann Ricketts, a Salem Hospital registered nurse who did most of the work; Jennifer Whittecar; and Renee Cummins.

DeCoss, recently retired owner of a bookkeeping business, was a pedestrian at River Road and Dearborn Avenue that day when he collapsed.  Ricketts saw an unconscious male pedestrian there, and gave him cardiorespiratory resuscitation with Whittecar and Cummins assisting her.

Ricketts said it was the only time she had administered CPR to a human being. Van Meter, in presenting the plaques, told DeCoss, “I’m glad that you’re here.”

“I’m glad too,” DeCoss said.

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