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GFD's acting chief updates committee

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - It was a rough start for Acting Fire Chief Ray Perez, giving an update on the operations of one of the most critical agencies of the Government of Guam, especially the state of GFD's ailing fleet of medics. "I'm happy that there's only one…let me make that perfectly clear I am never be glad or we should not be glad that we have a crisis on her hands," he said. "I'm happy because now it's coming out. It's coming out solutions."

The Guam Fire Department's fleet of medics nearly flatlined Wednesday night, with Mike Ungangco saying, "For a period of one hour and fifteen minutes we were down to one." So just how many medics does GFD have in it current fleet? Uncangco told the committee, "We have fourteen." The bad news? Uncangco said, "Maybe one or two are completely out of whack it's not even advisable to even have repaired."

Even worse? Senator Tom Ada said, "Usually four on average are responding on any given day to 911 calls islandwide." Discussion during today's briefing turned toward whether an emergency declaration should be declared for Guam Fire, thereby cutting all the red tape and bureaucracy that normally would tie up procurement. "People are dying out there we all know its been hitting the news because it takes an hour two hours to get to people who we're conducting CPR on. Is that not an emergency?," he said.

GFD management was tasked with coming up with short-term and long-term solutions to the medic problem, some of which discussed during the briefing included leasing medics from private transport companies currently performing similar duties. GFD was also tasked with turning in a preventative maintenance plan inclusive of just how much GFD really needs to keep its fleet maintained and running. and in light of GFD's newly-inked contract for billing for ambulance fees, management was tasked with coming up with a projection of how much it plans on collecting.

Captain Ruben Olivas who appeared at the briefing in his personal capacity already did the math. "You're looking at $1.5 million a year. $1.5 million a year at a very conservative rate will buy a lot of ambulances and fire trucks and the associated equipment to also include paying for maintenance services and repairs."

GFD will be reporting back to the committee with the requested reports. Thursday's briefing meanwhile ended just as it began with a bit of controversy. Acting Chief Perez taking heat for a decision he made when he came on board in March to relieve GFD's Chief Certifying Officer Marilyn Aflague of one major area of responsibility. "Marilyn was certifying officer I asked her for the certification part to let me have it and its in regards to my insecurities. If I'm going to go to jail then I'm going to go to jail because of my mistakes." Aflague said, "I've been replaced by a Secretary I."

Senator Adolpho Palacios said, "Tell you me you trust that whose function does not require fiscal monitoring and chief certification over a person that is actually hired for that? Just yes or no?" to which Perez replied., "When I get back to my office I'm gong to look at the job descriptions."

Olivas said he was partially the reason for Aflague's certification authority being removed, however Senator Palacios didn't allow him to speak on the subject saying it would be discussed in a different forum. Olivas told KUAM News after the hearing that he brought up concerns relating to certification involving the expenditure of E-911 funds.

Meanwhile back to the issue of medics, lawmakers suggested the governor use a portion of compact impact funds to purchase new medics.

Acting Chief Perez said he was enlightened about the possible funding source and would pursue it, currently he plans to purchase five new medics.

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