Cavendish Fire chief answers Ripley’s claim

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2019 Telegraph Publishing, LLC

While Mike Ripley brought up an issue with medical response by the Cavendish Fire Department, a Ludlow ambulance call sent him away before the meeting could begin. Photos by Shawn Cunningham

The monthly Cavendish Select Board meeting hadn’t even begun last night when board member Mike Ripley’s radio came to life with a call for the Ludlow Ambulance – on which he serves – and he was out the door. That was unfortunate, because Cavendish Acting Fire Chief Abe Gross was on hand to answer Ripley’s complaint from last month’s meeting.

At the June meeting, Ripley brought up an incident in which he asserted that Cavendish Fire personnel had waited for the Ludlow Ambulance crew to arrive for a “lift assist” while telling Proctorsville Fire personnel that they were not needed, thus leaving the patient on the floor longer than necessary.

Then on Monday, the board agreed to move Gross’ statement to late in the meeting in case Ripley was able to return from the ambulance call. But when that did not happen, Gross said he has trouble attending the meetings due to another commitment and preferred to read his statement at this meeting.

Gross explained that he had responded to the call in question, arriving after another Cavendish firefighter. According to Gross, that firefighter had called for assistance from Proctorsville before arriving. But Gross said that due to space limitations within the home, he thought that it was unnecessary to call Proctorsville and that they would arrive after the ambulance. When Gross said that Proctorsville had, in fact, arrived after the ambulance, an audience member said “that’s false.”

Acting Cavendish fire chief Abe Gross answers Ripley’s contentions.

Gross went on to say that canceling Proctorsville may have been the source of confusion with the Ludlow Ambulance, but he pointed to another lift assist at the same house carried out by one member from each department a few weeks later as a model for the cooperation he hoped the two departments could practice. The departments have a long history of friction.

Gross said that Cavendish has five members with EMS licenses and that it is moving toward becoming a non-transport medical service. He added that the service has received provisional permission for those personnel to perform patient assessments and take vital signs as well as do “interventions” like administering oxygen with permission from the Springfield Hospital emergency department. But, he added, when on a scene with Proctorsville, Cavendish licensed medical personnel have been prevented from working.

In the end, Gross asked what the standard of emergency medical care should be.

Proctorsville Deputy Chief Bobby Glidden said his department also has trained personnel and has been responding to medical calls for two or three years longer than Cavendish. He took exception to Gross’ remarks, saying that in the incidents Gross was addressing, Proctorsville was on scene 15 minutes before Cavendish and under control.

“Our first priority is life safety,” said Glidden. “…when you’re 15 minutes late to the call and we’re under control, our job’s not to tie up the scene anymore. We don’t need more people.”

In recent months, the Cavendish Select Board has been setting aside discussions about the ongoing conflict between the departments since each has its own governing municipal board. However, since the town contracts with Ludlow Ambulance and is responsible for providing that service, the board listened to Monday’s complaints.

“What it comes down to is the patient,” McNamara tells representatives of both fire departments

Town Manager Brendan McNamara praised both organizations, noting that 99 percent of the people in town don’t do the job they do.

“What it comes down to is the patient,” said McNamara, noting that a written standard for emergency medical service does not seem to exist on the town level and it may be something that the town needs to look at.

McNamara said that he thought that every firefighter in the room would want to move forward and do better with medical services. “I’d be the first person in line to help facilitate the best service for the town,” he added.

Rt. 131 culvert replacement

McNamara gave the board a heads-up regarding a culvert under Rt. 131 near Glimmerstone Mansion that will need to be replaced when the paving project on that road reaches it in 2021. “What’s there now is a beautiful stone culvert,” said McNamara. The problem is that the town’s sewer and water lines sit on top of it and will need to be re-routed, then replaced.

While the state is paying for the culvert replacement, McNamara said he wanted the board to know that the estimates for the town’s portion of the  work are around $75,000 and the town will need to budget for it. The work will include a three to four day closure of the road with a detour.

“It’s a major project, it will be great,” said McNamara, “but it won’t be fun while it’s going on.”

Errors and omissions

Town Clerk Diane McNamara asks the board to approve changes to the grand list.

Town Clerk Diane McNamara brought four grand list adjustments – three in acreage and one in assessment to the board.

After the grand list is finalized, such adjustments must be approved by the Select Board.  McNamara explained each situation and the board approved all four with one motion.

In other business

The board approved Linda Collins to an open seat on the District 2 (Cavendish) Prudential Board, but decided not to take up an appointment for a new Select Board member to replace Michael Kell, who resigned recently to take a job out of state.

The board was also asked to approve the 2019 Road and Bridge Standards for the town.  McNamara explained that these are state standards but if the town does not subscribe to them, it may not be eligible for certain state funding. The board discussed the standards briefly and approved them.

McNamara also informed the board that the state has approved a grant for the town to put an electric vehicle charging station on the Depot Street side of the Proctorsville Green near Outer Limits Brewery.

The evening’s agenda listed setting the tax rates but due to a lack of data from the State of Vermont, that decision had to be postponed.

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