TOWN OF BRATTLEBORO
Town Manager’s Office 230 Main Street Brattleboro, VT 05301
(802) 251–8151 FAX (802) 257–2322
TO: Local Media Date: April 11, 2022
From: Town Manager’s Office
For Immediate Release:
Press Release and Statement
Brattleboro Fire Department to Transition to Joint Fire/EMS Services – (4.11.2022)
On March 25th, 2022, Chief Drew Hazelton of Rescue Inc. informed the Selectboard and Town Manager that Rescue Inc. would no longer be providing emergency medical services (EMS) for the Town of Brattleboro as of July 1st, 2022. The Town thanks the dedicated members of Rescue Inc. for their many years of service in our town. Their excellent help and dedication to the community have been appreciated. We know that they will continue to provide that high level of service to their remaining customers in our surrounding municipalities.
After careful consideration of various options, The Town will be shifting from a private provider to a joint Fire/EMS service, offering patient care from the scene to the hospital with transport service. This Municipal Fire/EMS model is the most efficient and effective standard practice for the rapid delivery of medical care. It is currently being utilized in a highly successful manner by 5 of the 6 Vermont municipalities larger than Brattleboro and our neighbor in Keene, NH.
The Brattleboro Fire Department has been delivering first–response pre–hospital EMS care since 2000 to the people of Brattleboro. Last year, BFD responded to 1367 EMS calls for service, more than half of the total EMS calls in 2021. BFD staff provides medical care at the following training levels: Paramedic, Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT), and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Current staffing includes two (2) paramedics, six (6) Advanced EMTs, and eighteen (18) EMTs. Seven (7) members are currently in an AEMT class that will be completed in July. In addition, we will be hiring three new personnel with the intent that they are at an AEMT or paramedic level.
To help us transition from a private model to a joint Fire/EMS, the Town intends to contract with Vermont paramedic licensed Golden Cross Ambulance Services for one year. Golden Cross will house and staff two ambulances at the Central Fire Station. In addition to Golden Cross licensed professionals, these ambulances will have a BFD staff member onboard for each call.
During the one year of Golden Cross aiding BFD, we will look to purchase two ambulances, add staffing, and continue to train staff to become licensed paramedics and advanced emergency medical technicians.
The Brattleboro Fire Department continually strives to provide the highest level of care that the people of Brattleboro deserve and expect. This transition will be no different; the residents and visitors will be delivered the best quality of care. As the Fire Departments’ motto states, it is “Our Town, Our People, Our Responsibility.”
BFD and Golden Cross will be hosting community forums to answer any questions you may have on the pending change in EMS services in Brattleboro. They will be on the following dates and times:
Monday, April 18th @ 6:00 pm at Central Fire Station
Saturday, April 23 @ 1:00 pm at Central Fire Station
Tuesday, April 26 @ 6:00 pm at Brooks Memorial Library
Ian Goodnow, Selectboard Chair: “The decision to move from contracting out EMS services to expanding the role of the Brattleboro Fire Department was not reached lightly. This decision is the result of deep reflection on the part of the Town Staff, the Town Managers’ Office, and the Selectboard. As Chair, I will do everything I can to ensure that the Brattleboro Fire Department is given the resources and opportunities necessary to safely effect this transition. On behalf of the Selectboard, I thank Rescue, Inc. for their decades of hard work and commitment to the town of Brattleboro. “
Yoshi Manale, Town Manager: “After a careful internal analysis of the feasibility of the Fire Department taking on EMS, I felt that not only can BFD provide a high level of service after a year of transition, but it also makes financial sense. It is estimated that the Town will see a $500,000 to $700,000 net gain in revenue. We plan to propose that this additional revenue be invested in quality–of–life improvements for the people of Brattleboro.”
Leonard Howard, Fire Chief: “In 1831, the Brattleboro Fire Department was charted to protect the Brattleboro community from the effects of fire. Since that time, we have become an all–hazards department. Our services include fire suppression, fire prevention, hazardous materials, technical rescue, and EMS first response. As the fire chief, I feel that providing the EMS transport service is the best for our community and the continued growth of the Town of Brattleboro.”
Rescue, Inc. 2021 Town Consortium Meeting
See generally, but especially at 1:01 et seq.
“The system is working”
Being dumped by Rescue
This seems weird. Not the Town taking on its own service, but Rescue dumping Brattleboro.
According to Rescue, Inc’s letter dated March 25, 2022:
“. . . on February 9, 2022 . . . the Town of Brattleboro [stated that they were] no longer willing to continue their 56-year financial . . . relationship . . . with Rescue Inc. . . . unwilling to pay the assessed rate, a rate unchnaged from last year . . . ”
See this link for copy of the letter:
Town's official version
I was referring to the Town’s press release first sentence:
“On March 25th, 2022, Chief Drew Hazelton of Rescue Inc. informed the Selectboard and Town Manager that Rescue Inc. would no longer be providing emergency medical services (EMS) for the Town of Brattleboro as of July 1st, 2022.”
It is understood that the Town’s Press Release said that Rescue would no longer be providing the services, but according to Rescue the Town annunced it was unwilling to pay the rate that was announced in September, the line item for which was included in the budget.
The parties need to be talking to each other.
If true, then the Town is being misleading with their PR. It comes across as “Rescue dropped us and we found another way after we were told that Rescue wouldn’t help us out.” Very different from “Rescue raised its rates and we said no to the rate increase.” A bit atypical of the Town to fudge things like this.
Also weird that this change wasn’t, say, discussed and debated at a special public meeting so citizens could weigh in on what they’d like. It’s a big change! (Discussion buried in holiday time budget meetings doesn’t count.)
There are a few other problems with Rescue and the Town, if I recall correctly…
– everyone shows up at the scene of everything – a division of labor problem
– Rescue only gets reimbursed for ambulances if they deliver a patient to a hospital
The Brattleboro town manager did, indeed, tell Rescue that they were expected to provide services at no cost to the town. Chief Hazelton took that information to the Rescue Board of Directors. The Board of Directors voted on the “offer” and instructed the Chief to tell Brattleboro that the conditions were not acceptable but that further discussions could be had and set a deadline of May 1 for Brattleboro to contact Rescue.
Brattleboro then made a decision and announced it publicly at the same time or even before they contacted Rescue to say that Brattleboro would no longer require their services as of July 1.
The letter that Robert is referring to is the one that was sent based on the Board of Directors’ decision.
Watch Your Taxes Rise
I’m really skeptical of this move. Contracting a private NH service for a year doesn’t sit well with me, and the purchase, insuring, training, hiring, and maintenance for a town-owned service is going to be very costly. Where will that money come from and what are the projected costs? Nobody says. Rescue has served this town for 60 years, and I hope they all drop this notion and work out a $ deal with Rescue that both parties can live with.