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Don't take away our fire truck

(Editor's note: The following is an open letter to Seattle Fire Chief Gary Morris:)

My name is Dorothea Nordstrand. I am 86 years old and I have lived in the Green Lake district for 77 of those 86 years. I have voted in every election since I turned 21. I love Green Lake and have felt safe, proud and happy to live here.

I heard with dismay there is a possibility of our losing our Fire Truck No. 16 because of budget shortfall. I sincerely hope this does not happen. I owe my life to that Engine No. 16. Not once, but twice, that unit was the first response to my urgent call to 911. In each case, the medic unit attached to the Green Lake Fire Station was not immediately available to help, as it was already somewhere in the area, taking care of someone else's life-and-death problem. Believe me, when you are either in the horror of feeling a stroke hitting your brain, or of having the weight of an elephant sitting on your chest, there is no sweeter sound than the wail of No. 16 coming to your rescue.

In the first instance, their quick response made the difference between the mild stroke I suffered, and a massive one. In the second instance, a heart attack was averted. In each case, the medic unit arrived several minutes after the fire truck, by which time my condition was already stabilized to some extent, and I was no longer so frightened. As everyone surely knows, those first few minutes make the difference between life and death.

Green Lake, as you must know, is a neighborhood of mostly older homes and older people. Add to that the hundreds of people from other places who use the Green Lake Park, playfields and around-the-lake trail daily, and we become one of the most densely populated areas in town. Our firefighters are involved with drowning victims at Green Lake. They are also called to accidents on I-5, which cuts right through our part of the city.

We really need the services of our protection units as they are. We cannot understand how we could be put into jeopardy of cutting our life-saving supports. Surely, Seattle should put such important considerations before anything else. The people of Green Lake, and those of the surrounding neighborhoods who will also feel the impact of this hard-to-believe proposal, deserve better at the hands of those who will make the decision.

Please do what you can to avert certain tragedy to many of us.