There's a major change happening in the Telluride region that we, as a community, aren't being told nearly enough about. For many decades we've relied on volunteer firefighters and EMS to serve the region. This system has been an incredible asset to our community and functions at a very high level. Not only do we have a large group of well-trained volunteers spread throughout the region — and able to respond quickly to calls that a centralized service wouldn't — but we also do more with less, spending fewer tax dollars while having a community-oriented approach to this care. And we locals have had the benefit of being cared for by our neighbors and friends at times when we may be going through serious medical trouble.

But very soon, this could all change. There's a move afoot to "professionalize" the EMS staff, get rid of the volunteers and centralize all care. While I'm sure this way of doing things might be easier to manage and make sense in a world gone mad with increasing efficiency at any cost, I want us, as a community, to stop and think before we leap.

Community infrastructure is more than roads and bridges and wireless. Community infrastructure is also made up of relationships of service, experience and dedication. This layer of our humanity is at risk in many ways as we struggle to keep the local in local here in our tough, beautiful region.

If we disband the volunteer EMS, we pay a lot more. But worse than that we will lose the knowledge base, and the well-trained EMTs through the region that can respond so quickly will be gone. Once that resource is disbanded, we won't get it back.

I want us all to have a smart and honest conversation about what's best for our region for the long-term before we just assume the more supposedly efficient way is the better way. We’ve all heard about the Golden Hour when it is most critical to get care in many urgent cases. If we lose the regional reach of the present EMTs, who may be the next to need this quick response? Let’s pay attention while there is still time to make the best decisions.

Pam Lifton-Zoline