UNC should release a study requested by the volunteer Orange County Rescue Squad that examines the response times of emergency services.
The squad has been sidelined since June 2008 because of allegations of unprofessionalism; but squad members are asserting that response times in the area have increased as a result of the action taken against them.
The people of Orange County have a right to information obtained through research studies at public institutions. It is in their best interest to have the freedom to access it, especially when it has the potential to improve such an important service.
To prove their contention, the squad needs access to the results of the study, conducted by UNC’s Department of Emergency Medicine.
However, UNC officials have refused to release it, citing confidentiality concerns regarding personal patient information contained within the report .
According to North Carolina law, it is illegal to deny a public records request because parts of the documents contain confidential information.
Therefore, the University should oblige the rescue squad and the public and release the report immediately. It is very simple to redact any personal information the study may contain.
The public trust should be the primary concern of any institution, especially one as vital as emergency services.
If there are problems, we have a right to review all of the information available.
Concerns raised regarding the rescue squad’s professionalism are legitimate and they should be looked into.
But emergency response times should not be adversely affected because action regarding the squad’s future has not been taken. They were originally ordered to halt services pending review of their work, and no action has been taken since then.
The public needs to know if its emergency responders are as efficient as possible.
If response times really have increased because Orange County Rescue Squad was placed on stand-down, something needs to be done.
And the only way to determine whether response times have increased, though, is through an examination of UNC’s study.
This emergency services report should be released in order to restore public trust, especially when the timeliness of emergency responders hangs in the balance.
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