Who’s On First? Brattleboro Says Brattleboro

Brattleboro was given a clue, perhaps,  to the problem between the Town of Brattleboro and Rescue, Inc. at Tuesday’s Selectboard meeting. Fire Chief Howard said multiple times that even if another EMS service was chosen to provide first response care in Brattleboro, he would have his department keep arriving on scene “first,” no matter what.

The Fire Chief said he is determined to be the first responder at any scene, even if another organization is hired to provide that service.  “My staff won’t sit there if we are minutes away.”

Not one of his bosses – the Selectboard or Town Manager – challenged his idea that department heads can ignore top-down direction if they feel it is best.  (One obviously “anti-Rescue” board member Liz McLoughlin went out of her way to congratulate him, responding “Good answer!”)

That’s a potential chain of command problem, and also a problem if the Town wants to do anything other than have Brattleboro Fire Department be the first responder. 

This begs the question: was being first an issue with Rescue prior to the Town changing EMS service providers? No town official has spoken about it, but the old rumors were that some of the issues between BFD and Rescue were territorial, and focused on who arrives when, who got credit for the calls, and who got paid… and this seems along those lines. 

EMS services have been presented by this Selectboard as  “a problem with Rescue,Inc.,” but it may depend on who is being asked. It might be wise to work out the differences in mediation before the Selectboard makes any further decisions about which way to proceed.

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