Oct 18 Select Board Meeting & Oct 19 Public Forum on EMS

1. Presentation at Brattleboro Selectboard, October 18 – New Business 9(C)
EMS Feasibility Study Preliminary Findings Presentation – A.P. Triton

2. Public Forum, October 19 – 6:00pm Central Fire

3. Here are my thoughts. Comments appreciated.

This study has been described a way to assess the feasibility of a Fire/EMS service within the
Brattleboro Fire Department. It might be noted that $25k of the money set aside for this study was approved as part of the Town Budget on a vote of 100-6 (5 abstentions) by members at a March 19, 2022 Representative Town Meeting. At that time the line item for the appropriation was for a ”strategic plan” to help with “community expectations, concerns, positive feedback, help identifying critical issues, service gaps as well as give … guiding values and principles on how we move forward ….” 2021-2022 Annual Report, p. 48

There was no mention of Fire/EMS at that time.

I would submit that feasibility means more than money; it seeks to identify obstacles and form strategies to overcome them. One major obstacle is how we got here.

There are some immediate concerns as well:

• The regular monthly report on EMS activities is unexpectedly not available this month.

• Department overtime expenditures were 27.86% of the budget in August; 69.95% of the budget in September and now are reported to be 128.60% of budget

• There continues to be staff turnover. The reasons for four resignations are listed as “other employment” and one for leaving the state. This still begs the question why staff are leaving.

• There has been some discussion at this Board about how to account for Department expenses associated with EMS. There may be an answer in the CMS Cost Data Reporting – by allocating expenses using the share of total responses that are medical calls.

• There has been concern that the community survey, a part of this study, was hastily prepared. It is also unclear what weight will be given to community expectations and concerns. Three examples come to mind:

– The entire survey was inaccessible to the public for a period of time o/a Oct 9, 2022. The “explanation” that was offered was that it was a “glitch” – this may have had a chilling effect on participation

– Question 1 does not adequately collect data on residence.

– Question 2 asks to “check all that apply” but only allows one answer

Link to community survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/bfdcitizens

We hope for substantive answers to these concerns.

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