The Brattleboro Fire Department (BFD) is currently undergoing a strategic planning process, facilitated by an independent consulting firm (AP Triton Consulting). A Sept 21 BFD press release, which you can find on the Brattleboro Town website brattleboro.org states the Department is ”developing an EMS [Emergency Medical Service] study and is seeking community input …. The deadline for submissions is Oct. 31. The Brattleboro Fire Department’s Community Survey can be found here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/bfdcitizens”
There is a long history here that we all need to review.
A recent article in the Reformer, “A bumpy relationship – Rescue contract dispute had been simmering for years,” Sep. 29, 2022, noted that there has been a long standing controversy about the provision of EMS services in the Town. Indeed, at a 1983 Town Meeting, former Brattleboro Fire Chief Mattison reportedly said “Everybody gets all heated up and mad at everybody, … and I think it’s about time we stop it.” “Brattleboro’s EMS pullout set to leave southern Vermont with ‘bumps in the road’,” VT Digger, April 25, 2022. Would that T. Howard Mattison (1926-2016) could return to admonish us in person!
Somehow, for the past 56 years we have figured out a way to maintain the relationship with Rescue Inc, no matter how bumpy. And, those in the know said that, despite the bumps, the system was working https://bit.ly/3BJl9Xg
Then, seemingly out of the blue, on April 11, 2022, a change was announced. That Friday, April 15, a Town memo stated that the total “estimated initial startup costs,” for a change in service delivery, including capital costs for vehicles not yet purchased, would total $249,500, and “most startup costs will come from saving [sic] for the Town in the new contract ($212k).” https://bit.ly/3LFwEnb [see p. 130 et seq.]. A public forum was held on Monday and the very next day, on April 19, 2022, a decision was made to sever the relationship with Rescue Inc. and sign a contract with Golden Cross Ambulance of Clermont NH by a unanimous vote of the Selectboard.
If one keeps track of all the money, “the town’s spending now matches what it would have paid Rescue this fiscal year if it hadn’t dropped its nearly 60-year contract “ “Brattleboro’s EMS takeover, intended to save money, racks up higher costs,” VT Digger, July 6, 2022
At the September 20, 2022 Selectboard meeting, according to the draft minutes, “There was discussion about EMS expenses and how they should be classified.” At the meeting, the discussion revolved around which EMS expenses should not be counted as such, because they were attributed to startup costs. Now, one Board member is quoted as saying “It was never all about the money,” “Brattleboro EMS takeover, projected to save money, drains expected surplus,” VT Digger, September 20, 2022
If it were not about money but about quality of patient care, it seems the reasonable person would side with Rescue Inc., whose Director was quoted as saying: “Providers at the Fire Department do not have the level of experience that the providers at Rescue Inc. have . . . . That’s not a disparaging remark; it’s a simple fact. They do not have the same clinical expertise as providers that are coming out of Rescue.” Reformer, September 29, 2022
A timeline, researched after the fact, shows that behind the scene activities provoked a March 25th letter from Rescue that has since been cited to justify the actions already initiated. “Your Handy Brattleboro Fire – EMS – Rescue Timeline 2021-2022”, June 2, 2022, iBrattleboro.com https://bit.ly/3e0Tr0b
The way this decision was made cannot be omitted from this study; see news coverage here: https://bit.ly/3LHoVFb.
Some ways forward, in my opinion, include
• The Town of Brattleboro needs to take ownership of the problematic way this decision was made and reach out to Rescue Inc to repair the relationship
• Mediation, which was suggested, but discounted, should be employed
• Brattleboro has about ¼ of the population of Windham Co; Rescue covers 14 communities surrounding Brattleboro. What is the reason why we can’t all work together?
• The current plan in place since July 1, is that EMS back up would come from “Keene … Diluzio Ambulance [18.9 miles away] Greenfield [19.3 miles away]. . . ” A quick look at the geography of the area shows this is counterproductive.
• It only makes sense to repair the relationship with Rescue.
Make your opinion known to those making the decisions..
Take the survey. Also, reach out to the Brattleboro Selectboard members. An AP Triton representative will be attending the October 18 Selectboard meeting and a forum is in planning for October 19 at the Central Fire Station.