Brattleboro Selectboard’s EMS Surprise

Thursday’s delayed Brattleboro Selectboard meeting almost seemed like a last-minute confessional. In the movie version it would have gone like this:

Board: “Forgive us, voting public, for we have committed the sin of omission.  When we said it was about the one letter from Rescue, it wasn’t the full story…”  (Cue ominous music)


I’m not sure if it was the late hour, or a lack of air conditioning on a hot evening, or an impending sense of guilt, but moments before the the meeting was to wrap up, (with the next steps being a public information session then a board vote on EMS services,) board members revealed that they had other, important information that they have been keeping from the public.

Very late into a long meeting, former Chair Liz McLoughlin said that she could no longer allow Rescue to “control the narrative” and that it was time for the Town to tell the full story. 

Daniel Quipp agreed that everyone should have the same information, as did Peter Case. Both of them said they would be uncomfortable voting without the public knowing the full story of what they know.

Franz Reichsman liked the idea in general but felt it didn’t fit into the timeline to be voting at their next meeting. He ultimately voted against sharing the information the board knows with the public.

Chair Ian Goodnow was clearly upset that the official “it was the letter” story was starting to fall apart, and reminded the board multiple times that they all knew that the Town Attorney has advised them not to share this information with the public. He joined Franz in voting against being fully open with everyone.

This leaves me with many thoughts:

– If Liz hadn’t cracked, Daniel and Peter may not have said anything. The entire board seemed ready and willing to go vote on town EMS services based on secret information kept from public knowledge. Amazing. 

– Ian’s comments make it appear that the Town Attorney has been advising the board to use the story about the letter from Drew as the reason for the breakdown, rather than to tell the public the full reasons why they were ending the Rescue contract.

– The Reformer, VT Digger, The Commons, iBrattleboro, radio stations, members of the public and others have all been asking for the full story since day one. Everyone was told that the letter was the reason and cause. We just learned that wasn’t fully true.

– Again, the board had intended to keep this secret. They were nearing a vote without ever saying anything about these other issues they have with Rescue. 

– One might guess that the Fire Department attendance at Executive Sessions may have involved sharing stories with the board that aren’t shared with the public.  

– Board members have been pretending, until now, to be fully open with the public. They had backroom criteria they were using that the public wasn’t told about until now.

  A member of the public offered professional mediation services and the board appeared to ignore this offer.

– This is a very weird way to handle an RFP process. 

– It is hard to imagine the Town Attorney agreeing to this new desire of board members to air differences in public. He might allow a carefully crafted written statement to be released.   We may still not really learn the truth.

– It seems as if the Town is about to spend a majority of the ARPA funds on EMS because the FD has issues with Rescue and the board can’t resolve those issues.  That would be an expensive way to solve an interoperability issue, given the free mediation offer above.

– Admitting that secret information is influencing decision-making is useful for the public to know.


As much as the board would like to wrap this up, they have dropped an important bombshell at the last minute.  We may just be getting started here. Finally.

Comments | 11

  • Good analysis

    What more can I say?

    If a well crafted statement is presented by the Town on Tuesday night, it would be hard not to comment on it or question it’s underlying assumptions.

    Unfortunately it does not appear that the meeting will be Zoomed and, since it was not warned, no more than two SelectBoard members can legally attend.

  • Warned meeting

    I remain very confused by this little bit of double speak on behalf of the Select Board (not a warned meeting).
    Yes, I understand that no more than two members (out of 5) can attend anything that deals with town business unless the meeting has been warned. I have no issue with that.

    However, there was absolutely no reason that this meeting could have been “warned” on Friday, Sept. 8, even if they were not planning on running the meeting. This type of situation does come up in all towns from time to time and I am sure VLCT probably has some blanket warning language to cover the fact that a quorum of town officials will be attending a public meeting that they will not be overseeing but may be participating in.

    • Which one? : )

      It’s not entirely clear to me if they are still holding the public meeting, or which public meeting (the planned EMS meeting, or “the full story”) will be held.

      Daniel gave some examples of meetings where the board wasn’t leading things, but there are other examples of times the board was very much involved. Police-Fire station meetings and RTM info sessions come to mind.

      I think all five board members, given last Thursday’s meeting, need to be present and accountable at whatever forum(s) are held.

      • Meetings

        To the best of my knowledge, a meeting (public forum) will happen tonight. I communicated with BCTV as there had been very little talk about whether it was going to be recorded or not so I reached out to get a definitive. I was told that BCTV would be there (whatever night it was held) and it would be recorded and live streamed.

        What will be discussed is somewhat unclear as you mentioned. Will they give up all the “dirt” they have on Rescue tonight or save that for another meeting?

        But, regardless, my opinion is that the Select Board should show up for such an important meeting even if they are not going to dig in the dirt. Using “Meeting not warned” is a poor excuse when they could have easily corrected it last week and put a warning up. They could actually post a notice of a “special meeting” today and be within the framework of the law (24 hours notice). Maybe they do not want to have to produce minutes from the meeting? Technically that would not even really be that hard. Minutes do not have to be “transcripts” of the the meeting, just notes on any high points and, since no votes will be taken, those would not have to be recorded.

        Nevertheless, it is fully within their ability to inform the public that 3 or more of their members will be present at the “public forum”.

  • Brattleboro EMS

    I want to know what is being held back from the public by the town attorney and the board. Is there something to hide?

  • Public Meeting on EMS announced for Tuesday, Sept 12

    According the front page news story in today’s Reformer:

    “A public forum is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday at Brooks Memorial Library”

    I hope that BCC will be there.

  • Correction

    My brain just goes sideways sometimes. In one of my posts/comments yesterday, I indicated that the meeting would be on Monday (I used the term “tonight” when it should have been “tomorrow”). IE the meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, the 12th.
    My apologies if I confused anyone. My error entirely.
    I do proofread things but even then I mess up sometimes.

  • Tonight's EMS meeting will be on BCTV
    A public forum is scheduled for September 12 from 6-7:30 p.m. at Brooks Memorial Library. The forum will be broadcast live on BCTV’s website and on BCTV’s Facebook page.

  • Public meeting - municipal staff recommends municipal ems

    Asst. town manager Patrick Moreland (of Marlboro) recommends municipal model. (Prior to public comment and input, of course.) He says essential services should come from the Town (high speed internet?). He recommends using ARPA funds.

    Chief Howard (of Putney) endorses the municipal model.

    Planning Director Sue Fillion (of Walpole) endorses the municipal model.

    Finance Director Kim Frost (of Brattleboro) wrote that she supports the municipal model.

    Staff really feel staff are great.

    Audience member says they are wasting time. Especially if staff read similar statements. 30 min gone so far.

    Parks director Carol Lolatte (of Brattleboro) recommends the municipal model.

    DPW director Dan Tyler (of Dummerston) recommends the municipal model.

    This is a praise the fire department forum.

    Asst police chief Evans (of Brattleboro but not now) endorses the municipal model.

    Peter Lynch (of Dummerston) endorses the municipal model.

    45 minutes taken so far… and more to come before the public can say anything.

    Multiple staff imply Rescue supporters are being guided by emotions .

    AC Kier of the fire department thinks the municipal model is best. Choosing anything else would be a disservice.

    I wonder if staff support the municipal model?

    Librarian Starr Latronica (of Guilford) supports the municipal model.

    It’s almost an hour in…

    Sally the HR director thanks the firefighters who showed up. Names them all… Supports the municipal model. She mentions Rescue complaint against town, an investigation, findings… town said they were unfounded. An incident form was created. Used 3 times. First time was about command. Second was about training. Third wasn’t investigated as contract ended.

    That is the explanation. (Buried in this meeting).

    Firefighter Jamal says municipal model is best.

    It’s after 7 pm.

    Potter says there are many sides to every story.

    Now…the public.

  • Public

    – this is blindsiding. Not a public process. Too expensive. Don’t use arpa. You took an hour of our time.

    – stuff against rescue is unnecessary.

    – FD helps us, but spend money on police dept. this is nonsense. You created the problem. Think hard about this. You aren’t thinking about me or Brattleboro. Listen to us. I’ve lost faith in the town.

    – support for municipal ems. I have read everything and attended all meetings. Municipal is best. Rescue wasn’t done wrong… the Town was. Rescue refused to do mutual aid. Ian good now explained it.

    – thanks, staff. Rescue and BFD provide excellent care. I’m not ok with hearing one side of this. Liz’s comments on narrative took me aback. The select board reconsidered their ski sculpture. Recommendations tonight are fine. I have more respect for the board making decision. It is time to move on. I thank Rescue. I support municipal ems.

    – I want to restore Rescue as the provider. I had a cardiac arrest and Rescue saved my life. They got my heart beating again. I was able to come home. I want rescue back. 98% of comments want Rescue. Got petition signatures. People love Rescue. The town knows what the people want. the charter says it is to serve common good and respecting the will of the people. Is the town doing that? Where’s the beef? Where’s the patient. Nothing is about quality of care, and isn’t in this discussion. Put aside politics and egos. We deserve the best with money we have. Rescue is willing and able. Town knows what people want. Do they have the courage to admit the mistake of a year ago? I pray they do.

    – thanks to rescue and fire dept. I have been to all meetings, too and set through every presentation. Both are good. To me it is financial impact. Town bases things on FY25… we don’t make money off EMS and never will. That’s a huge problem. Taxes or rates go up. Also, we hear expenses will go up and revenue will not. That is a concern. Every year. Cost for year one will be 953k. What we don’t know is beyond FY25 estimates. What we get billed is up to the select board. We don’t know that this will be cheaper. Need to have staff and equipment. There is a shortage of ems workers and there are delays getting ambulances. 3 years. I think it is irresponsible to go with municipal with so many questions. Can we afford to do this?

    – for 40 yrs we’ve been talking of making it municipal. We should be in partnership with Rescue. Shouldn’t spend all the money at once. Rescue was great when I needed them. Can you work together? You will always need rescue with climate change. Need to work together. Both of them.

    – one concern is we will see more environmental emergencies. We can have a successful Rescue separate from municipal system. Right now, we need a municipal model. Town staff get along. Good use of ARPA funds.

    – my understanding is that the letter… I read that they couldn’t offer services for nothing. Also, in plan, how long for Golden Cross?

    June 30 2024

    Potter – have to read the letter yourself…

    – wasn’t going to say anything.. but rescue response time for brattleboro is comparable to fire dept times.

    – the letter says given your unwillingness to pay….if the town would like to meet, please contact me….

    – the board can use ARPA for better uses than to pay for something we already have,

    – most people know Rodney King – why can’t we all get along. Rescue is working with Keene, and Putney. Putney Chief said at end of day, we work it out. Focus on patient makes us too intense. Why can’t we get along.

    – Brattleboro alt ready has best with Rescue and fire dept.

    – during first hour … any more public Forums?

    Potter – comment at next meeting.

    – accountability was mentioned earlier and implied fire dept. was more responsible. Is fire dept really accountable if all staff think they are excellent. You spoke of investigations and findings. Sounds legal, but there was some basis for allegations… were other actions or training? Further steps beyond internal investigation. Was does accountability look like.

    Sally – there is monthly trading and harassment, DEI, and other training.

    – I know the fire dept and teach at academy. Firefighters have required certification every year. Rescue does too. Firefighters then do EMS… how to do all training. $1400 for an ambulance ride? How will you collect?

    Chief -firefighters have required training as does EMT. As for billing, that will be up to the select board.

    Potter- billing decisions haven’t been made yet – board can set rates with municipal model.

    – professional firefighter from Hartford Vt- emotions! Municipal is best. Not a new concept. Emotions are charged. We provide on shift training. Big cities do municipal EMS.

    – thrilled to learn FD does so much. Plenty. Rescue does a good job.. dedicated to saving lives not fighting fires. I’d go with Rescue and their track record. They don’t put out fires.

    Dick Degray – watch me on VPR. Dept heads speak for fire dept is nice, but not the issue. Chief Howard I have respect for. High esteem. But he said in 2023…BFD has been answering calls for 20 years. Last week the board said they wanted to tell their story… 4 mishaps in 20 years? Not bad. I’m concerned about money and taxes. Ian Goodnow wonders if we have a good deal. Rescue is cheaper. BFD has helped me anytime I ask. My issue is affordability and I wonder why you don’t work things out? Fear mongering about response times… not one person ever mentioned response time until the Triton report. Our community is torn apart by this. Not sure where we will end up. Let’s put the town back together.

    – I was chair during the Covid year. We can agree that every person speaking and we agree that BFD and Rescue and golden cross are excellent service providers. I believe 80% don’t care who shows up if they are good and we have that hear. The change took us to this moment if we hadn’t changed contracts. We didn’t get the data and we have the right to change. I wrote a letter to the editor about why municipal EMS is better, and I still agree with myself. I support fire EMS so people need to let go and to look at where we are now.

    – RFP…how do we get apples to apples costing with changes… a bonded contract. Dispatch costs went up. How could a bidder sit on deciding board? How did this RFP get written?

    Moreland – fire dept didn’t evaluate the RFP…. They saw proposals when the public did. The addendum process is normal. We got questions, so we did the addendum. Town clarified things. The proposal from Rescue is higher than in past. The performance bond was $20k…. Town doesn’t need one. Dispatch revenue… there is a market for that service and we tried to price ours to be inciting to use,

    – I worked for fire dept. that lady wants someone to save a life… that was my job…BFD is about saving lives. I hear fearmongering about finances. It works in other places, why not hear. I don’t live here, but brattleboro is unique. That comment was a slap in the face. You will pay whoever you get so go with what you know is going to work.

    – I read about this but until last night I hadn’t taken a personal step. I got people to come to support keeping Rescue for now. No one didn’t want to sign… FD has been great, but today what would we do without Rescue?

    – like many I didn’t follow the relationship, but something that was helpful was hearing staffing and equipment challenges but they recommended municipal EMS. We’d have control over things and the accountability. Initial costs are big, but are an investment.

    Potter – it is 8:25.

    – not that it matters but I am surprise by how few of you live here. I was at the meeting and chiefs said how they were understaffed.. hiring a paramedic is impossible. They both relied heavily on mutual aid. In Brattleboro we have a great EMS service. Best in state. Did all Covid work. Can’t be ignored. The reason they had fire EMS systems.. it is what the people wanted. It will work here but will be expensive and will go up. Can’t afford to pay more.

    – drew – on behalf of Rescue. We want to take care of people of Brattleboro and can work on your challenges. We’re staying in town.

    – ready to step up and work together?

    Potter – next steps. Staff will recommend. Board will vote at next meeting. Reach out to board members. Thanks for coming. Thanks for listening to what everyone has to say.

  • "Staff really feel staff are great."

    Just… thank you.

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