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The Miami Student will host a public forum, “City Matters,” at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 21 in Wilks Theater to discuss issues and possible solutions for the city’s health and safety challenges.

The panel will be filled by a mix of health, safety and government officials from Miami University and the city of Oxford: Oxford City Manager Doug Elliot, city council member Mike Smith, Oxford Fire Department Chief John Detherage, Oxford Police Department Chief John Jones, Captain Ben Spilman of the Miami University Police Department, Miami University Dean of Students Mike Curme and Vice President for McCullough-Hyde Hospital Pamela Collins.

The event will be free and open to all. Miami students, faculty and staff and Oxford residents and employees are all encouraged to attend.

Staffers first discussed hosting a community-wide discussion about safety concerns in Oxford after The Miami Student published an article about strain on the Oxford Fire Department’s resources.

The article, “Burnt out: OFD staff stretched thin,” published on Oct. 24, 2017 and written by Asst. News Editor Céilí Doyle, discusses students’ use of emergency services, often for alcohol-related incidents. During an average weekend, Oxford’s fire department receives 12 to 20 alcohol-related EMS calls, according to the OFD.

According to OFD records, from Aug. 1, 2016 through Oct. 1, 2016, the department responded to 361 EMS calls. Last semester, they responded to 426 calls in the same time frame ― an 18 percent increase.

That story and the community’s reactions to those figures prompted staffers to reach out to local police, Oxford government and university officials to continue the discussion. Those conversations confirmed that the issues presented in the story are ones that affect not just the fire department but all aspects of health and safety in the city of Oxford.

At this forum, panelists and attendees will discuss issues and possible solutions that arise from Oxford’s unique population, geography and safety needs.

The discussion will also focus on how individual incidents affect the larger health and safety resources of the city. For example, students can hear directly from police, fire and hospital officials about what happens when a student is transported to the hospital after over-drinking and how that incident affects Oxford’s emergency resources.

This event will be moderated by TMS editors and will feature questions written by the editorial staff of The Miami Student as well as questions submitted from the audience via Twitter and Facebook before and throughout the forum.

If you have questions about the forum or suggestions for discussion questions, write to the staff at miamistudent.net/submit, email editor-in-chief Emily Williams at eic@miamistudent.net or message us on Facebook or Twitter.

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