When I heard a while back that of the 12 hires proposed for Emergency Medical Services only four supervisors had been hired before the “pause” put in place by Chief Administrative Al Horsman, all I could think of, as you can probably imagine, was here we go again.
It just looked like the same kind of mistake made by former fire Chief Mike Figliola that saw a public educator hired off the street at a salary of $103,000 a year.
At the least it looked like putting the cart before the horse, putting four supervisors into an operation that seemed to be functioning OK.
Were the supervisors, who have the title of commander, really necessary. Was the cost really necessary?
I thought the best way to find out was to talk with a paramedic, to find out what those on the front line thought.
Although some firefighters disagreed with the plan, one set me up with a paramedic who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity.
He was in full agreement with the appointment of the four commanders.
You probably will recall that this all started when the now-departed Figliola got council to endorse his proposal that fire crews be cut from four to three, a move that through attrition would see the fire service complement reduced from 88 to 68.
The other side of Figliola’s proposal would see the EMS complement increased by 12 bodies, four of them supervisors.
This, of course, was good news to an aging community, whose demand for ambulance service was stretching thin what we had.
But you can understand how the jaundiced eye of a journalist could look at it, four supervisors hired at a pretty heft price tag, probably over $400,000 in total when benefits are added in, for a service that seemed to be doing all right with its present leadership.
But my paramedic source disputes that.
He said EMS always had a manager of EMS and a manager of quality assurance but didn’t have any frontline leader who was similar to fire Capt.
He said police have their staff sergeants and fire services have their platoon chiefs to do oversight but EMS, which had an overall manager and a manager of quality assurance, has never had anyone in such a position.
He said team leaders went out on calls as part of a two-person team so were not available to act as a quarterback if a major accident occurred elsewhere.
He said he fills in as a commander so has had a first-hand look at how helpful they can be.
He also said the four who had been chosen all have good backgrounds in the field and are worthy of the position.
There are now three ambulances operating 24 hours a day in the city with another operating from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Garden River now also operates 24/7.
Anyway, where I was ready to jump all over this with both hands on the keyboard, I think I will be content with just running this as an information piece.
If the rest of the plan, the adding of eight paramedics and more ambulances, actually does come to fruition, the addition of the commander positions probably will make sense.
Doug Millroy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.