Town Decides No Hire for Paramedic/Ambulance Coordinator

Woodstock Early Bird has learned that the Town of Woodstock Selectboard has signed off on a plan to forgo hiring a new paramedic/ambulance director to replace outgoing Pat Cassidy.

Instead, ambulance crew chiefs (four to five well-seasoned individuals) will take over the tasks that have been handled by Cassidy. Those tasks might include vehicle cleanliness and maintenance, records and billing, supplies, timesheets, incident reports and so forth. These individuals, who will be paid for their work, will continue under the supervision of Emergency Services Chief L.D. Sutherland, Jr.

The new plan, which will be up for review at three month and six month intervals, will not include a paramedic. However, should a situation warrant – as has always been the case – Woodstock ambulance crews can ask Hartford for a “paramedic intercept” to assist.

Sutherland tells us they may still seek out future paramedic candidates by continuing to post job descriptions but only as a way to get a file of interested candidates in case this new system doesn’t work out. Sutherland says there are very capable crew chiefs who he believes will be able to handle the work.

The decision apparently comes after the application of two individuals known to Woodstock residents: Joe Swanson and Robert Bees. Joe Swanson serves with the Woodstock Police Department and is qualified and trained as an EMT-Basic.  Bees is a trained paramedic who served on Woodstock ambulance (and with the Woodstock Fire Department) and was supported in his paramedic studies by the Town of Woodstock. He currently works for an Upper Valley Ambulance service while maintaining a residence in South Londonderry.  He had apparently sought to return to service in Woodstock, where his children still live. The job posting had asked that applicants be qualified paramedics or at a level to qualify for entering paramedic training.

There has not been any reason given as to why the two local candidates were not offered jobs. We asked Town Manager Phil Swanson for any comment and he had none. The lack of a more robust roster of candidates may have been due to the short length of  time for the job posting.

However, Sutherland says the new plan is one that takes everyone currently on the rescue squad  into account and gives them new responsibilities, increasing their “buy-in” and team approach to emergency response.  We are told many have been working together for some 15 years. In addition, Swanson confirms the plan is likely to save the Town of Woodstock some money as it will not be paying for health insurance for a FT ambulance coordinator.

3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Stephen Furbish on February 28, 2013 at 10:07

    Is this is an an economic move to save more money so the town can purchase another assault rifle and bullet proof vest.

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  2. Seams like the town is going backwards but that is what they do best.

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  3. Posted by Russell Pejouhy on February 28, 2013 at 18:16

    I think a wait and see approach is wise if only a small number of qualified candidates exits. However, Mr. Sutherland should consider who should next ascend to his throne and have one full-time Fire/Ambulance Chief that can do both jobs.

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