Selectboard Meeting Notes – Goodbye Rescue, Hello Golden Cross

selectboard april 19, 2022

The Brattleboro Selectboard voted to enter into a one year contract with Golden Cross Ambulance, effectively ending five decades of Rescue, Inc. collaboration with the town. There was much public discussion, mostly against the way this was handled, but it was approved 5-0.

The board also went back on their previous decision about the ski jump sculpture, now allowing it to be downtown year round but unlit most of the year, sort of like the Valentines hearts that hang year round downtown.

Comments | 12

  • Preliminaries

    They get started late. And then the sound doesn’t work so everyone just sits and waits. Oh here it comes… 6:19pm.

    Chair Ian Goodnow – There are people here I haven’t met. My remarks are about process. There are a lot of people here in the room and people on Zoom. When we get to questions that have public comment, the plan is we will go back and forth between zoom and in the room. Everyone who wants to speak will.

    Town Manager Yoshi Manale – no remarks.

    Liz McLoughlin – summer lifeguards are needed in Rec & Parks.

    Public participation – none

  • Consent agenda

    A. High Street Leveling Project – Bid Award

    B. Organ Street Pipe Project – Bid Award

    C. Local Hazard Mitigation Plan – Approval

    so consented…

  • The River Garden – Third Class Liquor License

    Patrick Moreland – tonight the board is asked to issue a 3rd class liquor license for the River Garden marketplace – they have the other licenses. This will allow serving of hard alcohol. They are good with back taxes and paid all fees.

    David Hiler – from Whetstone Brands. We didn’t apply originally to get it going, and a lot of our clientele would like a small cocktail menu, so we are applying for that so we’ll have a small bar area put in there, for craft cocktails.

    Ian – how’s it doing?

    David – really well. We wanted to do something different than Whetstone Station. The market is slightly different. A bit more sophisticated than the brewery. Building a good local crowd. How do you like it?

    Ian – I like it. Glad to hear a business is doing well.

    Jessica Geller – I like the open mic nights.

    Tim Wessel – out of owners like it and it is family-friendly, too. I appreciate you making that space.


  • Monthly Financial Report

    New finance director – Kim Frost – I’m hear like 10 days so I hope you like the report. I’m from NY and de idea to move up here. The financial report was included. As of this year we are 9 months in and 75% complete. We are at 73.9% of that budget. We’re on track. The other funds, Utility and Parking are also tracking well. The grant report has 24 active grant and 5 new grants. That’s my finance report.

    Tim – 10 days in. You must know everything. It caught my eye that the rental income – what’s going on? We do have it rented. Was there a bump because they weren’t in?

    Patrick – there is some rental space at 62 Black Mtn. Rd. We gave the Reformer a COVID discount and there’s Windham County Safe Space – about $22.5k. A 5 year lease.

    Jess – transfer section. What is this fund – transfer to fund 07. Clarity?

    Kim – not sure. patrick?

    Patrick – the 07 fund was from Tropical Storm Irene. When COVID hit, we re-used the 07 fund. As the pandemic evolved, it was clear it was a different kind of emergency. So you see a bit of a reconciliation there. This is the final piece of brining it back to the general fund. Now COVID is just cost of doing business.

    Jess – One other question – delinquent taxes and utilities and shut off notices stood out to me. The finance monthly statistics. Is this a significant number? It seems like a high number of utility shut off notices.

    Daniel Quipp – in my day job I help people avoid shutoffs. They are not fun. The Treasurers office and I have had conversation to help people get in contact with state resources. What happened, there are shutoff notices issued, and that usually results in a payment. Anyone in receipt of a shutoff notice should contact SEVCA or contact the Treasurer’s Office.

    Yoshi – we can do this for the next financial report and go into more detail.

    Liz – In the most recent bill there was a statement about helping people – an effort to get people to know where help can be found sooner rather than later.


  • Financial Management Questionnaire and Internal Controls

    Kim – one is from the state and one is from the town auditor, which is more detailed looking at our control process. We changed two things from last year. For your approval or questions. One question was salary and wage rates approved by selectboard – it said no but you do see them so we changed that, and the second one was asking about an approved vendor list and it now says no, no formal list.

    Liz – I appreciate the process and having these in place.


  • Possible Reconsideration of Permanent Placement of Ski Jump Sculpture – Discussion

    Ian – so, this is mine. An interesting procedural situation. WE haven’t had a reconsideration. It was a request by Tim Wessel. There were documents that were contained in our selectboard notebooks, but not in the part we are used to finding them, so no one had seen them, with that in mind that there wasn’t a full consideration, we thought we’d bring up a motion for reconsideration. We can discuss it, then take a vote by it.

    Liz – I move we reconsider the permanent placement of the ski jump sculpture.

    Ian – if this carries, we’ll do the agenda item again. If not, then discussion is over and we move on. Any further discussion?

    Tim – I did request this. Our board rules don’t speak to a reconsideration. Rules for small boards doesn’t cover it. I was shocked that there wasn’t much public feedback, then I saw that there were letters we were unaware of, and that’s not fair. The two letters are why I requested it, and no hard feelings if it doesn’t pass.

    Daniel – if the majority wants to be reconsidered, it will be reconsidered right now?

    Ian – yes. Atty. Fisher agreed. If it carries.

    Jess – I didn’t see those letters in the materials provided to us this week. A reconsideration tonight will be difficult without the missing materials.

    Tim – they are in our electronic linked in boxes. I’m not sure it should influence the reconsideration vote. It was an oversight from the board, not the Town Manager. They were in there, we missed them because they we re in “correspondence.”

    Ian – so they were in the original materials but not in this weeks materials. Public?

    Motion – 4-1 (Jess says no.)

    Ian – so we go ahead with the agenda as it was on the last meeting.

    Tim – Harris Hill requested that they allow to keep the ski-jumper artwork downtown year round and the work of taking it down and putting it up wouldn’t have to happen each year.

    Liz – I would ask that the extraneous elements outside the elements be removed while leaving it there year round and lit seasonally.

    Jess – I thought it should be lit year round for its full expression, if it is going to stay there.

    Daniel – the original agreement and intent was for the 100th anniversary. It happened. Everyone had a good time. It’s now April. The board met about this and voted in favor of not agreeing to leave it there year round, but it can be placed there seasonally, and the Town would help. Not nothing. That happened. 4-1. And now here we are.

    Ian – we have reps from the sculpture? No.

    Maggie lewis – I live in West Bratt. I sent you an email after I heard the year round sculpture was denied. I hope you take the new proposal separately from the original proposal. A new proposal has come forward. Look at the new one, and take into consideration that we offer an Olympic size ski jump that no one else does, it helps children be more athletic, it creates more outdoor activity. It puts us on the world wide map. people come here to compete. We should have it up year round. No one else has it. We do. Taking it up and down, spending town funds, when it could just stand there. It makes sense to me. Having it lit year round could be great, but seasonally celebrates the event.

    Dora Bouboulis – how did this start. Did this bypass policies about doing public art. If applied fairly, this should be taken down until it goes through the process. Is this art, or is it a sign? It is their logo. All non profits are worthy and should be treated equally. There is a policy and this is bypassing it.

    David Hiler – I agree with Dora it being a symbol, but it is attractive, made locally, solar powered. The one and only Brattleboro – the ski jump is unique. people will see it as they come into town. It represents a nonprofit, but also a 100 year history of ski jumping in town.

    Jody Normandeau – good evening, from Dummerston. i spent my entire life in this area and have been to the ski jump for how many years. This is very much a symbol of Brattleboro and the ski jump. The town uses the symbol on trucks. It is a piece of art and I enjoyed seeing it up down there. It brings a lot of commerce to the area. Allow it to stay there.

    Tim Wessel – the original motion… I want to point out we got a petition of people asking it to stay – (maybe 400 total). It was staff’s idea it was a good idea.

    Ian – one clarifying question. We have done other public art things. the mural in High Grove Lot. Did we do a procedure with that?

    Tim – there was a nonfunctioning art committee?

    Daniel – what’s the town’s policy on public art?

    Patrick – the arts committee would make a determination about displaying it. There has been trouble in the last year convening a meeting and that will be remedied later tonight.

    Liz – the missing letter from the art museum could be that it is art.

    Daniel – art is subjective – art, branding, statue… the issues we wrestled with this when we voted on it, does it represent an event or aesthetics, or what is in our public spaces, or accessibility. Who should be allowed to raise money and put something somewhere permanently. This has gotten very convoluted. We vote. We heard much about it. Just not two letters – on from director of BMAC. My wife is at the museum and she shared her private opinion. people have different ideas. Not sure why we’re back with this. I have heard people split on this.

    Ian – there is some division on lighting full time or not. maybe that could get us to a motion.

    Maggie – when you talk about art – what makes something an historical monument? It’s the only event like this, for 100 years. Why not have an historical monument. It’s already taring, why not have it year round.

    Tim – makes motion to keep it year round, with seasonal illumination. Dec 1 – Mar 31

    Ian – maybe we should make motions at the beginning then have all discussion. So, any further discussion. No?

    passes – 4-1 (Daniel opposed.)

  • EMS Contract – Authorize Contract

    Ian – so we move on to the Golden Cross EMS contract. There seems to be some confusion about the board’s role in this. Article 4, sec 6 of the Charter says we have a duty and responsibility to establish a rescue and ambulance service. That brings us here tonight. In 2019 we signed a contract with Rescue. On Feb 9th Manale began discussion with Rescue, he requested financial documentation to support the $280k annual request. They denied the request. He told the board. On Mar 25 we got a letter, saying that they’d stop serving us and made accusation that had been investigated and found without merit. Hazelton is a state board chair, expressing an opinion of our application for EMS certification. Town Atty said this was concerning and conflict of interest. Given the ultimatum, the unfounded allegations, and the lack of transparency, meant that I felt it was time to look for a different EMS provider for the Town of Brattleboro. That’s what we are discussing tonight. It is clear there is a duplication of services in town – they pay for the fire department and pay $285k to Rescue for something we don’t undertstand. Golden Cross will utlitize our resources and supply us with equipment and supplies. WE are also considering EMS ambulances as a local service. there is more to learn before we know if that is viable. Golden Cross is an open partner with us and will work with us. They used this model in Littleton NH. A hybrid model of EMS, Fire, and Golden Cross. They will provide us with month data and costs so we can plan for EMS services. Showing a transparency that is so lacking in negotiations with Rescue. This is a repsosibility that cannot be delegated to a town wide vote, or to the town manager. I believe this is the right thing to do. First, we’ll hear from Manale, then the Fire Dept, then Golden Cross. Then we’ll bring it back to the board questions and comments, then the comment rom the public.

    Town manager Yoshi Manale – consider authorizing a contract with Golden Cross – they will bill and collect revenue, provide ambulance and life support stationed at Brattleboro Central. On March 25, Rescue In said they would no longer provide service. With their withdrawal, the town contacted Golden Cross. The town is considering shifting to a town Fire EMS model, which is the most efficient and standard way, used in the region. Town and Fire Dept are excited for this new transition. This will allow us an apprentice-like relationship.

    Fire Chief Len Howard – this is Asst Chief Kier, and next to him the owner of Golden Cross. Staff will be duel trained staff , there will be a professional level of care – same or better than before, continued care from scene to hospital with no patient care turnover from fire department to Rescue, Fire based EMS is the most efficient system, making financial platform for the people for Brattleboro, and it is our town, our people, our responsibility. We have trained staff and are training more. It’s an apprenticeship program, we can purchase the equipment we need, and gives us experience with experience providers. We’ll fund it with a federal grant for a while if we can. Golden Cross is a one year transitional period. maybe 18 months. Until we feel comfortable taking it over. They’ve been in service since 1962.

    Dale – in the family since 1978 – paramedic level in NH and Vt for 30 years. offices in Westminster and Claremont. We have worked this model before. 3 months is a short time, but it works well. We look forward to working with you and providing a great quality of service.

    Len – this graph shows our call volume and our EMS calls. The second provider is during peak times. This other chart shows 11 different fires we had and the time frames… it is a low number, and we’re doing well with fire prevention and education. It’s paying off. BFD’s responsibilities will have 2 stations available, 2 ambulances and fire trucks can respond, 4 crews on 4 different calls. One person and one crew from on the scene until the hospital, then the transfer of care to the hospital. Many towns around us do this way. I am 100% confident you’ll get th level of service of the last 56 years, or better. Change is hard but this will be beneficial.Come and meet with me. Happy to talk with you about it.

  • Continued

    Daniel – I don’t have a prepared statement, but what I’ve heard are some real questions, from a real place. Folks are concerned about being safe, or costs… the question is about a contract for ambulance services, but what people are here for is, will I be OK. What I’ve experienced is the fire department is utmost in seriousness, and they wouldn’t even consider this if it wouldn’t be a good thing. I have that much trust in them. But questions. This contract places tow ambulances. Rescue has more, Why are 2 enough?

    Len – Brattleboro can be served by 2 ambulance. Rescue covers more area with 5 ambulances. 2 is adequate. Burlington has had two and just added a third.

    Daniel – other things – the budget put together about revenue and expenses are inaccurate… we don’t have enough faith in them. Other towns have transitioned to municipal from private. What does that look like financially.

    Yoshi – we spoke with other towns and what we found is that the cost for contracting was significantly less, and there was revenue if you had your own Fire EMS. Greenfield paid off two ambulances in two years with the revenue. We did a lot of asking around. We know it is a viable model. We’re not the first.

    Daniel – if the board is in favor of a contract for one year, there will be a study by a third party to determine if it is feasible to move to a Fire EMS model. All that work will happen in public sessions and contracts in executive session. During the year, they can work together and we can find out if this will work for us. If the study says it won’t work, then we’ll seek the best contract. I’m in favor of the Golden Cross contract.

    Jess – so, as someone whose family has been in town for several generations, we have had relations with both the fire dept and rescue. There are deep emotions. It’s about who takes care of you on the way to the hospital. It’s a dip, emotional, loaded situation. It can make it difficult to see clearly. I think ian you did a lovely job laying out the case for trying something new. new is not a bad word, though we did vote to celebrate history, we value our history, but we also want a new perspective. Yoshi brough a new perspective. From his experience in other communities and EMS and Fire, he took a look at the relationship in a different way and had excellent questions. Golden Cross is also new to us. Because we don’t know you well, can you tell us about your statistics and transport systems. Help us build confidence.

    Golden Cross – it’s tough. We’ve been doing this for 15 communities, we have 17 vehicles. Claremont has 2 ambulances. Today, we had a cardiac arrest in Claremont that we took to Dartmouth and we hope for the best. You are fortunate having good providers at Brattleboro Fire Dept. All have worked with rescue squads. We’ll work with them. They know the community. That’s one of our drawbacks. I have to prove myself. I feel very confident with the crews working for us.

    Jess – also speaking of new, Kim, one question is about how we handle the financial transactions and billing that will be added if we transition in this direction. Have you had this sort of experience before? Any insights?

    Yoshi – if we do this, the cost estimate… it is complicated to do medicare and medicaid. It would cost about $40-50k, or 4-5%, paid to a third party to process.

    Jess – as we look at the feasibility, if it doesn’t work out, is Golden Cross interested in continuing if we don’t do it ourselves.

    Yoshi – that will be something to look at when we have more data. If it isn’t going to work for us, we’d put it out in an RFP.

    Liz – I thank everyone. To my mind, we need to consider public safety and financial efficiency. I trust the fire department to protect the public and they provide first rate care. I appreciate the town manager’s identification of the issue and I’m with him. I feel my vote must be best for Brattleboro, and that is to contract with Golden Cross. I consider this ripping off the bandaid, and necessary.

    Tim – I’m fighting a cols that started two week ago. Honest, up until a few days ago I was a No today. I hate the way this has gone down in the community. We just struggled with a reconsideration because people were not heard. I believe in the democratic process. Things have been bubbling up for many years. there wasn’t much advance warning, and for a while that was enough to say no. This was one of the most emotional processes I’ve been through in my time on the board. After the February meeting we were busy with town meeting and elections, and we knew we needed to deal with this quickly. I was hoping Rescue would go with a one year contract, even without the cost details. I knew it would give us the time to make the case in the community. I respect the workers and board of Rescue Inc. Then the letter came. We were stunned. Set aside that they say no more service but we can negotiate a contract. The rest of the letter convinced me we couldn’t repair the relationship in time to sign a contract. The worst part was that he said he’d continue to oppose the brattleboro application to the Paramedic level. We have every right to do it, so when we go the letter, we spoke with Golden Cross. We couldn’t continue with Rescue and we were robbed of the time to build community support. But an unethical letter – not a marriage worth saving. Despite the swiftness – too quickly – it is what is right for Brattleboro. Must take lemons and make lemonade. Our system will be directly accountable to us. We’ll see book at every town meeting. It is the right way to go. My concern is for Brattleboro residents and visitors getting the best care, and watch over taxpayer money. Continue to have faith in the fire department and the selectboard.

    Ian – being 5 of 8, we take a break for interpreters, but we don’t have them tonight. We have closed captioning. So we’ll continue until 8:30 and then take a break for us. Now, the public comment.

  • Continued

    Gary Stroud – hello again, hi. I’ll make it short and brief. We’re family in Brattleboro. That makes us who we are, and there is always that emotion when someone comes and goes, moving in with you. If the new service going to deliver the same family care to Brattleboro? We have a higher rate of need for quality care? Will it deliver the same or better care?

    Ian – yes. The folks providing the majority of care is the BFD, who know this community

    Len – the vehicles will be at the stations. We have high standards. Our name will be on it so we’ll keep up the high standards. If there is an issue it will be addressed.

    Gary – I look forward to it.

    Kate O’Conner – the board knows how I feel about this. I’ve been upset. Nothing to do with the BFD. The are top notch. If they do it, they shouldn’t get a used ambulance. Our fire dept and resident deserve better. I’ll say things you heard before. I appreciate you read from the charter, but you need open and honest dialogue. It’s not just a document. Jessica talked about the personal relationships with Rescue. It’s not a reason to keep it but to respect it. You talked about how we got here. The Town – I want to hold you accountable. The Feb 9th mtg with Rescue and a March 25 letter, and there was an offer to negotiate. The town issued a press release. There was no communication from Town to Rescue before the letter of the 25th. That’s a failing of leadership. I’d hope you’d vote not to vote tonight. Call Rescue in the morning and try to work something out. This breakdown I’ve never seen before. You aren’t going to listen to anything I’ve said. It’s disappointing that it has come to this. I need to lay my upsetness and the six people before me. I hope for more transparency and public discussion. Don’t leave out the part about their offer to negotiate. I’m really upset. there’s more to this story. Step up and do right by the town in the future.

    Liz – last September, Elwell brought me to the annual Rescue meeting to see the leadership in action. It wasn’t pretty. There is hostility to BFD because they are a paid career department. rescue does a fine job, but leadership and business model are best served in towns without paid fire departments. he wanted me to see that and convey that to other selectboard members, and I’ve talked with other board members that this has been coming to a head for years. rescue had an opportunity to work with us and they chose to be difficult instead and that is why we are where we are. It has been brewing.

    Bob Oeser – I don’t want to rehab a lot of stuff. the Sept 16th meeting, is on tape, and you can see that meeting, and an hour in or so another town asks how Brattleboro’s taring firefighters as paramedics, and hazleton says he won’t entertain the question. Elwell introduces himself and says we do want to train them as paramedics, and we want them to use their credentials, but don’t want to harm the system. The rates were being revealed at that meeting. It seems like there was some common ground there. That’s the context. kate did a great job with the chronology. between Feb 9 and mar 25, nothing happened. Why? There was a comment on social media about someone moving into town. 6 degrees of separation. Around here it is 3.5. Someone else said 2. 15 communities are served by Rescue and 14 are right next to us. There may be no responsibility for us to recognize that… there is a hope that relationship can be repaired in some way. Hazleton is on the zoom call. I don’t know that we could talk about it here. Take a vote to abstain from voting today and set a new date and try to figure it out. I’ll leave it there, and thanks.

    Daniel – thanks, Bob. I was grateful for the context of Elwell’s quote in the news about the system working. Hazelton is on the Ambulance board chose not to speak to the issue which seems strange to me. WE have one paramedic now?

    Len – yes, he works in Ludlow on days off. he’s able to work at a medic at that level.

    Daniel – so Brattleboro taxpayers pay for this but he can’t practice here

    Len – he paid for his paramedic school himself.

    Daniel – so no common ground with rescue.

    Liz – I don’t see why we’d want to negotiate with them at this point. We have two choices and are going with golden cross.

    Ian – the contract is a more effective use of what Brattleboro has, and that’s our job. To negotiate contracts best for the town.

    Tim – earlier today, someone said Brattleboro is successful to the success of Windham County. I favor what’s doing what’s right, right now. Not our issue that Rescue depends on a structure that includes us.

    Dora Bouboulis – a query for the town manager and Fire Dept. Separate from the board, there is a doctor that oversees if someone is certified, have you met the criteria. I thought last night there were things you need to do.

    Len – we have some equipment to buy once we have someone to do the job.

    Dora – I agree with Kate that there has not been enough process. I’d hope you would not vote on this, hold off, and look at other things. My experience on the board and in the community. It is all about relationships. Brattleboro has a responsibility to communities around us. We don’t always see that. We think like and island, but we are not. People don’t always feel like Brattleboro is looking out for them, so we need to be careful when we talk about things like this and it has an effect on things, and resentments could hinder other things that the town and people want to do, and relationships that a new town manager need to build. If that’s been undermined in the first few months, it could present a problem. I severed on a couple of regional boards and there are strong feelings about Brattleboro and what the town does. I’m feeling like I’m not seeing that from board members. I brought it up yesterday and nothing has been said. We’re a very public community. The budget for this was approved and voted on by RTM. When this came up, it should have been though about for the next budget. That didn’t happen. leadership from the board… I feel like these relationships are very fractured. back to process. I was a little disturbed that the Chair should moderate rather than do closing arguments at the start of this… you can’t go anywhere form there if you star out hostile.

    Ian – thanks. I appreciate the comment on my chairship, I felt I should state where I was at up front. The moderation goal is a serious one.

    Jess – your point about community engagement and process… all of us really value it. As this unfolded, it was disappointing. We didn’t expect to consider the loss of Rescue until we received that letter. That left us little time to act or engage with the public or do the research to make sure financials and care are taken care of. I think we could have done better, but we did the best we can.

    Liz – Brattleboro and surrounding towns. Whatever those relationships are, Brattleboro is often the major participant or payer in, we pay the most for WRC planning. Rescue’s payment model was based on population but took a turn we endeavored to understand. We have an obligation as the town hub to perhaps support the other communities? I feel in the opposite direction… years ago the board had a huge push to have other towns understand what it is to be a hub town. We py significantly more property tax then other towns. One thing we pay for is paid career fire department. If we pay Rescue, it is paying for duplicative services. Why would we want o do that? Surrounding towns need the wrap around services of Rescue more than we do. Why continue to have more services than we need? Whatever way people in other towns look at us and understand us, it isn’t based on facts on hand. We’re going to study a Fire EMS system. We can be neighborly and have mutual aid.

    Ian – It’s now 8:30, so we’ll be back in 10 minutes.

  • Continued

    Ian – so, we left off from a public comment from the room, so back to zoom.

    David Miner – the question I have is about due diligence done in the process. Are there other providers in the area that could have been considered?

    Len – there is a national change in Greenfield and a private one in Keene.

    Miner – was an rep sent out to consider options?

    Ian – there was a real time constraint aspect to this, to find a hybrid model. there are 60 days required to get the license for the county before the june 30th deadline for an ambulance provider. If we do this in the future, a more traditional RFP will come into play.

    Seacrest- I’m concerned about the process. I have trust in you and your service and you are careful and deliberate. My concern. I was alarmed when i learned about this. More public inout went into the ski jump decision. I’m worried. I’ve heard that the board mention an incendiary letter. I’m worried that the strong feelings I’m hearing come from a letter. It was hope until that letter, that’s a sad breakdown of communication. I’m hearing your decision is pretty much made. I respect BFD. I’m worried that the confidence may not be warranted if we jump into this on short notice. Rescue has 18 paramedics. BFD has maybe 1. The decision seems to be made, so I urge for careful protocols in the first year, looking at patent care. I can’t see how the decades of Rescue can be replicated in a short time. What are the assessments planned. is an outside party looking at response times, mortality, outcomes… how throughout has it been thought through.

    Asst Chief Kier – a couple of different factors. We have agreements with doctors to oversee the clinical care we provide. They’ll review things as they take place. Critical care paramedic can do more than a paramedic. We’re discussing emergency 911 response, not interfacility transfer, from hospital to hospital. We have policies vetted by doctors. There are requirements for additional training. We’ll have a stricter level than we currently do.

    Daniel – Golden Cross is a licensed provider in the area.

    GC – I have staff with 20 years experience and new folks. A wide range of skills and all are vetted and work with local hospitals to follow protocols.

    Liz – there is also a study being conducted to asses the needs, right?

    Len – two different third party vendors will give proposals for EMS studies. It takes 3-4 months to do a report. They’ll come and provide their report to you of proper protocols going forward.

    Ian – the room…

    Maggie – so, I want to share my thoughts about this. I think that going with this model we are talking about is a great idea, and the unfortunate situation may need some time to breathe, and you may want to come back in a year and talk with Rescue again. Id the town decides to go back to the original model, Rescue could apply to the RFP. We’ve talked about what we do now we do a good job. This model affords us the opportunity to do better. One continuum of care will have better outcomes. We should look at the opportunity in front of us, out of an unfortunate situation. Take a breath.

    Jess – I do think it is valuable to have a positive relationship between rescue and the Town. Larger scale emergencies need coordination and cooperation.

    Daniel – I don’t doubt professionalism of any of the responders.

    Dora – Keene contracts for backup and pay a fee for service. Where are we on this. People talk of mutual aid. Mutual aid is for big events, not ambulance calls. That will be an additional cost and I don’t think anyone has looked at that. Either Golden Cross will charge extra for backups, or someone else will. I want this on the record… when I was on the selectboard we looked at the issue of BFD taking over paramedic duties and t that time the town manager barb Sondag and the Fire Chief and others all looked at it and the financials… it would be a wash or cost more. There has been a change in funding for ambulances, but that could change in a year. healthcare costs are going up That all has to be taken into consideration. There are many who didn’t speak tonight because they felt it was already decided. Those sentiments are still out there and these issues bubble up again at impromptu times. There needs to be an opportunity for people to feel like they got a fair opportunity to voice their concerns.

    Len – Keene doesn’t pay an extra contracted fee, they just collect the revenue form that call. About 99% sure.

    Tim – two ambulances, and mutual aid, but we have fire trucks.

    Len – yes, and our response times will be 3-5 minutes to BMH.

    Tim – Rescue doesn’t have any “dedicated” ambulances for Brattleboro and now we’ll have 2.

    Ian – if there is a need for an extra…

    Len – currently we call mutual aid, or keene or delouzio. Or travel from Townshend. The fire department makes the decision.

    Ian – and about the past vs present.

    Yoshi – we looked at other towns. They are doing well and functioning in an effective way. The finances came about with me looking at this issue. I was in a larger town that had a similar poverty rate (higher) and high immigration population – so they had a high uncollected rate. When we looked at it, we allocated $65k to a nonprofit EMS services. Because of high unreimbursed rate…. so when I saw things here, I saw a lower uncollected rate, lower calls for services and were paying more, and that’s what started me. We never got to that point. We don’t know if it is financially viable… a third party will look at it… our estimates say it will, but we’ll know the actual revenue and expenses.

    Ian – ok.

    Jess – it sound like there will be future opportunities to contribute – to the third party review, to their report, to the fire department budget next year, election day next year, and at RTM next year they can weigh in on the budget.

    Ian – we’ll be talking about this all year, and before the board a bit. We have to make sure it is viable, and that happens in public.

    Daniel – and every meeting has public participation about things not on the agenda. We get lots of communication, and it is important, and it is a piece of it. Each of us ran for office, and we weigh this seriously. Some comes down to trust. I have worked for years and we are lucky to have the same board this year. I know how these people work. With great seriousness.

    David Petrie – I emailed all of you today. I was on social media posting more than usual, and I was concerned about the speed it was happening. The press release you put out said the plan was to move to a combined Fire EMS and the contract was for Golden Cross to fill in for the year, but tonight I hear a shift that the next year will assess the feasibility. Is that a shift, was the PR not clear?

    Ian – yes. It’s not a shift. The PR wasn’t clear enough. We were acting quickly to inform he public so we could secure a contract. No way to do this without a viability study. It’s the right move for Brattleboro, to me, but I’ll look at the numbers.

    David – it shifted my confidence, so I wanted to note that. Yoshi emailed me this afternoon to address some concerns. I appreciate the pickle you’ve been put in. Disappointed that Rescue hasn’t had much communication to try to address the letter that had a level of anger that was surprising. It seems the relationship between Rescue and the Town is fractured and won’t be an easy fix. I’ve shifted gears and have confidence and this plan sounds good. My issue has been the fiscal responsibility. I agree that there has been lots of time for rescue to provide numbers and info and they haven’t. I appreciate hearing from Golden Cross. There may be some job loss in the community over this. It isn’t their fault or the town’s fault. First meeting in a long time and it is refreshing. The charter is the charter, and you are responsible to the town of brattleboro.

    Zach – I am an advance EMT, from Burlington, and have been a deputy EMS chief. I am a member of Rescue but don’t represent them. I spent the last 8 years building friendships with BFD. That said, some questions: call volume – the number of calls on the record in the last year?

    Len – total medical calls? 1367, not including accidents. 1450 if you include them.

    Zach – the amount of medical calls that you don’t respond to?

    Kier – 30% of the calls Rescue responds to – 1,710 calls.

    Zach – governance of selectboard. The majority of the public tonight have had problems with the process and due diligence. These should be extremely vetted and include the public. It’s my professional opinion that an ambulance has a level of experience the FD doesn’t. The are great people at BFD. There are some things that can’t be compared. The FD doesn’t have any transport experience. It’s confusing we’re treating this as an apprenticeship and a test. It would appear Golden Cross provides 2 medical providers on a daily basis, you will be operating a Fire EMS model on July 1.

    Ian – It’s not the same thing. We’re not buying the equipment, doing the billing, or the transport…it is a hybrid. Not municipal Fire EMS yet. That’s why we need this model for a year. Rescue wouldn’t help us. Golden Cross will help us.

    Daniel – I’d be curious about specific examples. Currently if someone calls for an ambulance…

    Len – it goes to dispatch and FD and Rescue both go, and whoever gets their first starts. Once we arrive and we turn over patient care to Rescue and it is turned over.

    Daniel – in the new system… a Golden Cross ambulance will show up

    Len – with BFD and Golden Cross staff

    Daniel – the experience for patients is similar in both…professionals helping them

    Zach – comparing certifications – everyone has the same rules, but there is a difference between a provider that has been in an ambulance and one that had been in a FD.

    Daniel – the ambulance will come from Golden Cross.

    Len – we do ride on the ambulance to BMH. This isn’t something we do every day but we do these things already.

    Yoshi – what is the employee turnover at Rescue?

    Zach – my comment isn’t Rescue’s, and I haven’t been there in some months. It’s probably up to par with any EMS. EMS is crumbling in this country. There is a fair ambient of turnover, but for full time paramedics, there are many wedded to this community, too.

    Jess – there will be two people from Golden Cross?

    Len – one 24-7, and a second one for 8am to 8pm.

    Zach – On a personal level, Liz, your comment about ripping the bandaid on. You’ve touched every individual at Rescue with that comment. The feelings you have for management shouldn’t be spread to employees. On a pediatric level, all three parties need to maintain a relationship.

    Liz – I was talking about the leadership and the history of the bad relationship. Not the reputation of the rank and file. Their leadership did not serve them or Brattleboro. It seems to me this action needed to take place and it takes courage on the part of Brattleboro, BFD, the selectboard. It is controversial, but needed to be made. Leadership at Rescue was not serving the community.

    Ian – thanks for coming for Burlington to address the meeting. I know that ride.

    Gary – hi, be careful what you wish for. The question was getting into the numbers. Transparency in numbers is important, and everything is going up in cost. having the answers to why are important. Will the new ambulances be up to speed and will this be an ongoing labor cost. It’s not about service, it is finances to watch. So it benefits the people of Brattleboro. What’s best for the people. Finance is an important thing.

    Tim – a comment bout Yoshi’s projections looking good. It is not the point. The point… no one says the library doesn’t make us enough money so it must go. This is a service we should provide. The new model will provide it with more transparency and accountability. The point is not to get a cash cow going for Brattleboro. I’d be happy if we break even.

    Dora – not feeling confident in your responses about public participation. I don’t think you understand what it is. You can do what you want to do, but I’d suggest setting up a committee and a mediator and public participation. There are a lot of things. I’d suggest taring for the five of you. There are things that can be done to do it right. You just have to know that it isn’t your strength.

    Ian – thanks. I’m happy for the criticism. We’re not a bunch of technocrats. They care about the the town. We admit there wasn’t enough now. I can take the criticism for me, but not my fellow board members.

    Daniel – the public participation process about Fire EMS is appropriate, but not about contract negotiations. It protects both parties when we negotiate contracts in private. I just want to put it in the room. It might not sound lovely but it is the truth.

    Tim – Bob hasn’t spoken. Who signs contracts and what if the public isn’t happy with it…

    Bob – it is your duty and power to provide those services and contracting. The public don’t sign contracts. If they aren’t happy with what you have done, the remedy is to vote you out of office. That’s a risk you take when making decision.

    One year $75k contract with Golden Cross approved. 5-0.

  • Windham Regional Committee Appointment/ Arts Committee

    Ralph Meima appointed to Windham Regional Commission.

    Kirsten Martsi, Colleen Savage and Richard Davis appointed to the three open seats on the Town Arts Committee.

  • Yes, Communication is An Issue.

    I wrote an email to Ian about the Rescue situation. Ian didn’t respond. Instead, I received an explanatory email from Fire Chief Howard. Very nice of the Chief, and in formative, but I don’t vote for Chief Howard. When I write to an elected official, I don’t expect them to kick my questions to someone else. We’ve seen what poor communication does in this town before, and it wasn’t pretty.

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