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Advertise on the Tentacle

August 24, 2007

The Business of Taking Care

Patricia A. Kelly

A crucial interstate highway bridge connecting two important sister cities in the United States of America recently collapsed. One of the last missing bodies came out of the water just this week.

Just imagine, in the greatest of countries, a world center for technology, design and construction excellence, a major bridge collapsed, a happening that you might expect along a dirt road in Africa.

It's astounding. Our country's infrastructure is in trouble, aging and needing serious repair or replacement, at huge costs.

This news reminds me of my surprise upon moving to Frederick in 1982. I found that the city repaired its infrastructure. I was surprised to see bridges in town replaced, Bentz Street taken down to the old cobblestones and repaved, the water pipes re-lined or replaced. I had never seen such a thing before. I wondered why not, but answered my own question by telling myself that Frederick was the oldest city in which I had lived.

Then, 12 years ago, while working as a nurse in a coronary care unit in a suburban community hospital, I had occasion to ride in ambulances, accompanying cardiac patients to Washington Hospital Center, in the very old city of my birth.

During this particularly cold winter, many water pipes in Washington froze, causing something much like glacial ice to appear on the streets. It made for an adventurous ride, with critically ill patients aboard; and I was horrified to realize the condition of the infrastructure in our nation's capital. There were many semi-joking suggestions made that winter that the city should be abandoned and rebuilt somewhere else, as it would be much less expensive than correcting the long-deferred maintenance.

On August 9, 2007, Katherine Heerbrandt wrote in her Frederick News-Post column about our state's Medevac system, its' aging equipment and the great expense, $6 million each, to replace our old helicopters. This helicopter transport system has made a huge difference in lives and limbs saved for accident victims throughout the state.

That first hour does make a difference. I'd sure like to have the benefit of quick transport to definitive care before my body went into terminal shock after a trauma. I wouldn't want to crash on the way either.

The question now is what else might have been deferred in state program maintenance. It's so much more politically attractive to create new programs and to build wonderful new things, than to fix the old.

When your water heater implodes as its 10-year life is up, leaving your basement under water, think about this.

When you review your government's budget, think about this.

It may not be sexy, but, as the Christian hymn that refers to building your house upon the Rock says, God, or in this case timely maintenance, is the foundation upon which all else rests. Let's keep our government accountable for this, as we try to make up for past failures throughout the nation and pay way more than we would have if we had taken care of things the right way, at the right time.

>From now on, let's take care of our toys, like good boys and girls. We'd miss them if they were gone, and even bridges don't last forever. Let's ask our government to do the same.

As for Frederick: Attaboy, and keep up the good work!

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