Brattleboro EMS, RTM and ARPA

At its 2023 meeting, RTM approved a motion calling on “the Selectboard to develop and implement a dedicated community engagement process for allocating [ARPA} funds before any further funds are spent.” Before that meeting and since, and during Selectboard meetings, members of the public have asked—really, begged—the board not to obligate ARPA funds until there was a systematic effort to ascertain public preferences for the spending of those monies, and we were given assurances that such a public process would occur before drawing on ARPA funds. The Selectboard’s vote last night to draw on 51% of the ARPA balance, without promised public deliberation, can only be seen as evidence of its bad faith.

Selectboard Meeting Notes – Brattleboro Fire Department Gets Their EMS Service

selectboard sept 19 2023

The Brattleboro Selectboard will be using $1.3+ million of ARPA funds to set up a municipal EMS system. The vote was unanimous to give the emergency medical services ‘contract’ to the Brattleboro Fire Department.

The Town Manager told the board why municipal EMS would be best, the board told the public their decisions as to why they would vote in favor, and then the public was allowed to weigh in with comments.

Questions for Sep 19 Brattleboro SelectBoard Meeting

The SelectBoard meeting scheduled for Tue, Sep. 19 promises to be of great significance … Details regarding attendance are here:

The Sep. 5 SelectBoard meeting recessed to Sep. 7 due to technical difficulties. Near the end of the meeting which lasted beyond 11:00pm SelectBoard member Elizabeth “McLoughlin motioned to have a discussion of the transition of care and intergovernmental coordination, interagency coordination by the town staff in recognition of consultation with the town attorney.” “McLoughlin discussed rescinding her motion. The motion was not rescinded” and the “motion passed, as presented. 3-2 (Goodnow and Reichsman opposed)” Case, Quipp and McLoughlin in favor. Minutes pp. 10-11 in the Backup Materials

Open Letter to the Brattleboro Selectboard re: EMS

In the September 11 edition of the Reformer Selectboard member Daniel Quipp is quoted as saying “a pretty clear vocal majority,” referring to those who “would like the board to contract with Rescue again.” Majority of what is not clear, so I checked with Daniel. He told me he meant the majority of those who have expressed their opinion on this matter to the board. When I checked the Town’s “Fire-EMS Transition Project” web page (9/12): a quick run-through of the feedback submitted by email does show an overwhelming majority of Rescue supportive comments. I counted 75 out of 77.

Here are some thoughts from a member of the minority expressing an opinion. I hope they resonate with the majority of citizens that have been silent on this matter.

Brattleboro Selectboard Meeting Agenda and Notes – September 19, 2023

The Brattleboro Selectboard has one item on the agenda for discussion at their next regular meeting: whether or not to accept the recommendation of Town staff to proceed with a municipal EMS system, or to support a regional system favored by others in the community. During last week’s public forum, the public was encouraged to attend and comment at this selectboard meeting.

You can bring up other items not on the agenda during public participation.

Inconvenient Truths Are Not Personal Attacks

I think defining what is a personal attack, and how it differs from a strong but fair statement is often not understood.

Today, on the Brattleboro Facebook Discussion page, Steve West accused me of having make a personal attack because I had written that a deceptive statement about the Rescue EMS response time was allowed to stand unchallenged by town department heads and the town manager at Tuesday’s EMS forum.

Letter to the Editor – Brattleboro EMS Petition

While trying to gather names in support of keeping Rescue, Inc. ,at the Senior Center, I was informed that this was not allowed. This was not a partition for any political party, it was a partition involving the health and welfare of the people of Brattleboro.

Let us go back just a bit. Originally the Town Representatives voted for monies to go to Rescue, Inc. not to be put in the Town Budget as an axillary line item. So they hire a Town Manager, who we find out later that had ties with Golden Cross. When this happened why did this not alert our Selectboard to question these ties. Instead of admitting that they dropped the ball they continue to try to ram this down the throats of the Brattleboro residences, even with the multitude of responses that we want Rescue, Inc .

About The Meeting to Reveal Brattleboro EMS Issues

Last week, the Brattleboro Selectboard voted to reveal the major issues with Rescue that board members have known about but have not shared with the public. At the time, Chair Ian Goodnow said “It will be a meeting prior to our decision with ample time for public participation,” and “We’ll have a new schedule with plenty of notice for everyone.”

The public meeting to tell the full story from Brattleboro’s point of view took place in the middle of Tuesday’s EMS Public Forum, in comments made by HR Director Sally Nix.

Brattleboro EMS Options

Ever since the relationship between Rescue and Brattleboro was ruptured in 2022, the Town has been faced with the challenge of arranging for EMS services. While the explanations for the 2022 break have been vague and unconvincing, the plan is for the Selectboard to decide how to proceed at its 19 September meeting. There are three options. Details on the three are worked out in Town Manager Potter’s 1 September “Transition Update” memo and a 7 September “Supplemental” memo (hereafter first and second memos); both of them, and much more information, is posted at the dedicated Fire-EMS Transition section of the Town website. . It is important to note that Mr. Potter’s analysis of the three options are focused on the first year–FY25 impacts—on the General Fund. Longer-term financial impacts for a Town EMS are not estimated.

EMS Deception

Although I have made a comment or two on decrying the autocratic manner of selectboard members (we make the decisions, we don’t have to explain), I have been reluctant to speak out about the EMS controversy as I have not made a truly serious effort to become informed. After watching the September 12 EMS forum, I still do not feel capable of analysing which choice is better; but on a gut-feeling basis, I do not trust the Dog-And-Pony-Show put on by Town leadership. A “consensus” of 11 Town employees concerned with their jobs reciting matching opinions, is hardly a genuine consensus.

Still, I wondered what if they are right and EMS run by the fire department actually would be better?

EMS Forum: Brattleboro Municipal Staff Are In Favor of Municipal EMS

I took notes for last night’s public… uh, lecture? …spanking?…justifications? ….gaslighting?  It certainly didn’t seem much like a forum on EMS options.

For example, Town Manager John Potter introduced the evening by saying that one goal for the evening was to NOT go into detail of any of the EMS options.  A goal.

This was followed by over an hour of Town staff, many who live on towns served by Rescue, explaining why each and every one of them think the BFD is great!  A member of the public called BS on this pretty quickly, but was ignored.

Below are my notes (cut and pasted from the comments of another thread.):

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.

Selectboard Meeting Notes – Former Chair Decides Now Is Time To Reveal Longstanding Fire-Rescue Relationship Issues

sb sept 7

Well, well, well. The Brattleboro Selectboard has decided at the last moment that it would be good for them to explain to the public all the secret EMS BFD Rescue relationship information they have known about, information the public has asked them about for over a year and half and the board has remained steadily tight-lipped about. Until now.

Former Chair Liz McLoughlin cracked and said she wouldn’t let Rescue, Inc. control the narrative anymore, and that she wanted a meeting to reveal everything the board knows that the public has been kept in the dark about by her and her fellow board members. Chair Ian Goodnow warned the board that the town attorney told them they should not discuss these secrets with the public, but they voted to hold a special meeting anyway. The plan is to let the public know all the reasons that Rescue and BFD don’t get along.

This throws the public forum and decision-making meeting dates into question.

Selectboard Meeting Notes – The Meeting That Wasn’t

sb sept 5

The Brattleboro Selectboard got off to a late start then quickly put their meeting on hold for technical reasons.  Forty-five minutes later, the meeting was postponed until Thursday to give BCTV and Facebook time to fix themselves.

Those interested in discussing EMS and downtown safety will have to wait.

Brattleboro Selectboard Meeting Agenda and Notes – Sept 5, 2023

The Brattleboro Selectboard will be spending most of their first regular September meeting discussing town safety and EMS options for Brattleboro. They will review the EMS proposals received and learn about EMS insights from other communities. They’ll also discuss wrapping up the process, holding a public meeting, and then making an EMS decision.

Twelve items are packed into the consent agenda – a possible record, and good thing!  You may bring up other items not on the agenda during public participation.

Two Private Ambulance Proposals Received by Town of Brattleboro

The Town of Brattleboro has been exploring its options for providing Fire-EMS services. In addition to considering a fully municipal Fire Department approach, the Town has received two proposals from private companies to compare. The Town is thankful to both companies for putting together thoughtful and thorough proposals.

American Medical Response of Springfield, MA proposed a turn-key approach that would not require any first response services from Brattleboro Fire Department staff. They would dedicate multiple ambulances to respond within the town to meet desired response times.

Rescue Inc. of Brattleboro, VT proposed an approach like the Town’s previous model that shared emergency response responsibilities with the Brattleboro Fire Department. They would rely on Brattleboro Fire Department paramedics and EMTs to respond to priority one calls, such as cardiac arrests and vehicle crashes, with the private company responding to all other types of emergency calls and transporting the priority one patients. Rescue Inc. would utilize multiple ambulances that are deployed across the fifteen towns that the company serves.

Selectboard Meeting Notes – Summer Public EMS Discussions Wrapping Up

selectboard aug 15 2023

The Brattleboro Selectboard held their August public EMS discussion at their regular meeting on Tuesday. The board is happy with their progress though one member said that the public doesn’t understand what decisions are to be made,. They will make their EMS decision in late September. Two more public meetings will be held prior.

The Town Manager said the EMS project web page has had over 1600 page views since May. (This site averaged 7,750 pages viewed per day in August for comparison). The board had questions about the Fire Department’s large overtime budget and the public had questions about downtown cameras and sheltering people without homes this winter. 

Brattleboro Selectboard Meeting – Agenda and Notes – August 15, 2023

Brattleboro’s Town Manager will suggest changes to the budget process at the next regular meeting of the Brattleboro Selectboard. One proposed change to the schedule is intended to increase public participation.

EMS discussions continue, with one more chance for the public to weigh in on aspects of pending EMS decisions. The board will also hear a financial report and will spend nearly $60,000 for a Pool Engineering Feasibility Study.  You can bring up other items not on the agenda during public participation.