What happened with EMS, and what have we (or should we have) learned?

BRATTLEBORO — Having been elected recently to serve on the Brattleboro Selectboard, I'd like to update your readers on one of the concerns that led me to run. With regard to emergency medical services in Brattleboro, I asked: What happened in the process of reaching a new agreement, and what have we learned from it?

The response to my question has often been that Selectboard members and the town administration can't talk about it because of the separation agreement reached with the previous town manager. Privacy concerns and the possibility of a lawsuit have limited open discussion of this matter, which remains of importance to the town. I regard this situation as regrettable and unfair to both the Selectboard and the community.

Others, however, in the media and among the public have shared what they know. Having reviewed the available information, I believe I now have an adequate understanding of what happened and what we learned, or at least what we should have learned.

Simplifying things somewhat, I believe there are lessons in the hiring of a new town manager, in introducing and orienting a new town manager, and in crafting non-disparagement agreements should they be needed in the future.

The discussion when our former town manager resigned his position a year ago was that it simply “wasn't a good fit.” I have no reason to doubt that's true, and it would seem to be an inherent risk in hiring a new employee for any position. I would therefore advocate a probationary period during which either party could end the relationship without further ado and without any negative consequences for either side.

Second, a new town manager both needs and deserves adequate supervision and communication with the Selectboard about what is happening and why. I believe there was a breakdown in this area with regard to emergency medical services during the period from Feb. 9 to March 25, 2022. Had clear communication been maintained on this matter there's a chance (though not a guarantee) that we could be in a better place now, with an easier path forward from here.

Finally, with regard to non-disparagement agreements, I would like to see them limited to the expression of opinions and conclusions, but not include the citing of facts. We should be able to put facts on the table for the public to view. The people of the town should be able to reach their own conclusions based on those facts without any disparaging opinions or interpretations being needed or offered.

Having reached these conclusions, I'm now ready to dedicate my own thinking to the pending questions about Brattleboro's future.

The recently outlined timeframe offered by Town Manager John Potter for deciding on how to provide EMS in Brattleboro seems appropriate, and by September we hope to have a fully developed plan for high quality and affordable EMS services.

By approaching the discussion with good will and open minds, I believe we'll be successful.

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