Brattleboro Meets With Rescue, Asks for Uncompensated Mutual Aid

Rescue Inc Press Release: “Brattleboro – The Brattleboro selectboard sent a request to the Rescue Inc trustees asking for a meeting to discuss mutual aid on May 19th. This was the first communication between the Town and Rescue Inc. since the September 2021 consortium meeting which was attended by then Town Manager Peter Elwell and the Selectboard Chair Elizabeth McLoughlin. The Rescue corporate officers agreed to an early June meeting and replied to the request on May 20th. A June 6th meeting date was confirmed.

Brattleboro’s request for help covering ambulance calls comes after the selectboard unilaterally chose to terminate a 56-year relationship with our nonprofit, community-based organization. This decision was made without any discussions about, or actual consideration of, the impact on the surrounding communities. The Town presented its position during a February 9th meeting when Rescue was told the Town would not pay an assessment fee and that Rescue should provide service for free. The response from Rescue Chief Drew Hazelton rejecting those terms in March has been cited as the reason for the sudden closed door meeting that led to the change in EMS providers.

Earlier this spring, the Town signed a contract with Golden Cross Ambulance to provide service beginning July 1st, 2022. This contract will create a joint venture between Brattleboro Fire Department and a private corporate for-profit ambulance service which may then transition to a municipal Fire based EMS delivery model. The Town has repeatedly hailed this as a means to receive better service even though Rescue Inc. service has been consistently ranked as the best in the region—most recently, Rescue’s call efficiency was publicly verified by Vermont Health Department

On Friday, June 3rd at 4:00 p.m. Patrick Moreland sent out a draft agreement to all parties set to meet for these discussions on Monday, June 6th. This draft agreement, discussed at the June 6th meeting with the selectboard, indicated that Rescue should provide an unspecified amount of coverage, which they define as “uncompensated mutual aid.” During this meeting, Rescue Inc. and representatives of the selectboard had a very frank conversation about the damaged nature of the relationship between the Town and Rescue. There have been a series of disparaging remarks by Town officials about Rescue’s business model and its management staff. The selectboard representatives in attendance heard how this public discourse had directly affected the leadership and staff of Rescue Inc., specifically Chief Drew Hazelton. At the end of the meeting, the selectboard members in attendance agreed to bring the content and context of this conversation back to the entire selectboard for further discussion.”

– Rescue Inc. Press Release

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