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Here’s The Scoop….3/10-11/09 LBTS Commission Meeting…#5…Public Safety…The Set Up…

March 14, 2009 by Barbara

24 HOUR WRITTEN QUESTIONS….REQUIRED….

http://khushi.files.wordpress.com/2008/07/questions.gif

6. Public Safety….

VFD…

Commissioner Dodd asked if he was the only Commissioner to put his questions in writing….Chief Perkins answered he was….

CD-” I came and spoke to you a couple of weeks  back and I felt it was something the public should know, that we are getting a truck”…he asked the Chief to elaborate…

Chief Perkins- ” Ah, the truck we’re buying is a pumper. It’s similar to the engine that we bought a while back, Engine 212. It’s going a backup reserve and a training truck and yes it does help our ISO rating. Ah, with equipment, hoses, nozzles etc. It’s gonna be great truck to have another truck. It will be our fourth truck.”

BC- Where will this truck be parked? We were told that the Town needed to pay for covering of the 3rd truck we have to comply with ISO…the canopy …the one the VM did the purchasing on…as stated in the backup materials…So where will this one be stored?…Is the Town looking at yet another cost for covering a truck?….HMMM…

CD- ” This was purchased with the fire departments funds?”

CP- “This was purchased with our own funds ah, no tax dollars.”

BC- The VFD keeps saying this money comes from the Booster Club Funds….When was the last Booster Drive?….

CD-” Third question, what is your anticipated number of medical calls after you instigated a policy of only essential medical calls or haven’t you yet instigated?”

BC- This was addressed at the last Comm. meeting…regarding “medical calls-other”…those calls for which there is no need for VFD assitance…The Chief said they could call and stop the response to dispatch on these types of calls and they were working it out with AMR to do just that…This writer has been told that such medical calls would not even come  the VFD unless they requested BSO dispatch to include them ….

CP- ” Um, we did , we did what we told you we were going to do and we ah, did call offs not as many as I would like because its the situations really sticky when the call comes over um, it, bleeding or whatever it may be, may be more than what it says on the pager. Each call has a life of its own. And ah, we are averaging at least $70 for each medical call and I feel that $70 is very well spent. It’s a win win for everybody. And um, I’m gonna continue to make rational decisions on these calls that come over the pager. If I feel as Chief that we need to send an engine, it’s gonna go. And because you feel you want to lower our budget um, I can’t do that. I’m looking for the safety of this town and that’s where my mind is staying on the safety of the town and if it costs us a few extra thousand dollars than that’s just too bad.”

CD- ” No, I never said I wanted to lower your budget. Um, my concern is that we have a number of VFD ah, in a hurry trying to get to the station and then in a hurry in the truck running around town and there are certain calls that come in and I’ve listed some of them just as a matter of academics from Sunday where we had, and let me just briefly run through some of them which was two males stung by jellyfish.”

BC- OK…Before the Vice Mayor’s calculated point of order…that seems to be courtesy of that 24 hour written notice that ONLY applied to Comm. Dodd…a few points…Comm. Dodd was in receipt of the VFD pager …his turn after Comm. Clottey…he (Dodd) was able to see the calls going pout from BSO dispatch…and the response from the VFD…during this time he was able to see how often the VFD sent out their members for “Bleeding”…”Feeling ill”…”Diabetic”…medical calls…calls that no matter how many FF go on…they can do nothing for the patients…that would be for AMR to do…Comm. Dodd with the pager could see the calls the VFD went on sending out the entire department all trucks …for something like an apparent drowning at the beach…What would the entire VFD do?…Run into the ocean?….

BC- It does not take a brain surgeon or a statistician to figure out the chances of accidents are higher for sending out a call requiring a fast response both to the station and the scene than not sending out that call at all…Why take the chance?…

BC- So tonight a few  things were decided ahead of time for the Chief to say…that the money doesn’t matter…that Comm. Dodd was trying to put money over safety…and to get that pager away from Comm. Dodd…and here we go on that one….

Vice Mayor- ” Point of Order, we’re getting into Hipaa problems here. I want approval from the Town Attorney about it. This is serious stuff.”

BC- The Mayor tried to stop him…But what the Mayor and the audience did not know…the VM had already spoken to the Town Attorney about this…courtesy of the Town Manager …prior to the meeting…

BC- As previously posted…this was a VFD matter and as such should have been handled by the VFD attorney for them to pay for…Comm. Dodd has asked the Town Manager to see that the Town is reimbursed for the costs…just as this writer and the Future paper were billed for time when the Town Attorney was used…After all the VFD as the Town Manager so often informs us is a separate entity..a contracted corporation…HMMMM…..

CD-” This is very serious stuff Vice Mayor, and I have not….”

BC- The Mayor wanted Comm. Dodd to continue …and implored the Vice Mayor to stop…but again he had this all planned…and would not be thwarted…

VM-” I won’t until I get a decision from the attorney if he can discuss Hipaa violations across the public air. Town Attorney could you give me an opinion on that?”

Town Attorney Trevarthen- ” Vice Mayor in response to your question we were asked apart from this meeting whether certain messages contained information that protected and shouldn’t be disclosed. Ah, we were asked prior to the meeting to look into the issue of whether certain messages on the pagers ah, were protected. We did advise the Town Manager of the results of our research this afternoon and um, when there is a level of detail that is in those pager messages, yes it is protected by Hipaa.”

VM-” So it should not be discussed, is that correct?”

TA- “I would recommend not using the identifiable individual.”

BC- WOW!…This is the same VM that spoke about the heavy man in Terra Mar…the same VM that has time and time again given out information …and did nothing until this last month to change the monthly VFD reports that gave specific addresses of residents on medical calls…despite this writer repeatedly calling it to their attention….This VM has given a pager to the VFD photographer Marc Furth who is an honorary FF with no training …and AMR has decided that the Commission will take turns sitting in on medical review meetings where Hipaa information will be divulged…a fact the Town Attorney must not have been privy to….Selective Hipaa to get Comm. Dodd out of the loop on the calls being answered…no doubt!…

CD-” And the essence is the identifiable individual and can I ask ( Town Attorney) who were you asked by? Because we have a rule on this dais that an individual Commissioner can’t ask for individual legal opinions. And I would also ask for Mr Liddle (AMR) to come up and stand here and explain to everybody here because he is unbelievably tied down by Hipaa. And I was told provided I do not identify the incident, the individual or disclose any medical information, correct me if I’m wrong that I am allowed to make reference to it.”

Brook Liddle-AMR- ” Actually, I didn’t hear you finish what you were going to say in terms of your description. Ah, I do, I am aware of the information that goes out across the pagers and ah, what the Town Attorney identified. Again, without hearing what you say what you were gonna say, um, I can’t really comment on that. That it’s correct that the subject to privacy acts from Hipaa. We have to be very careful of what we discuss and what format we discuss it in so.”

CD-” I’m very aware of that and I have caged my questions so that the individuals concerned in any of the events were not identifiable, because I have read your (AMR) reports where you very carefully say an incident occurred between a certain block unlike previous reports from the VFD where they were actually originally put out as contravene to Hipaa. And I am very, very careful and I would like the dais’ discretion and if I slip over the line, the Town Attorney and you (Liddle)  step up to say that I have stepped over the line when I identified an individual.”

BC- TOUCHE’

TA- ” Through the Chair I just wanted to respond to the question that was asked (Comm. Dodd) in regards to why we had investigated this matter and it was at the request of the Town Manager.”

BC- As previously posted …the Town Manager decided to “have at it” towards Comm. Dodd about her calling the Town Attorney…and include that she (TM) had called the Town Attorney on Comm. Dodd’s behalf also…BUT- again this was a VFD matter …not a town matter…Blurry..blurry Madam Manager…

CD- ” I am going to go ahead and ask…” Comm. Dodd asked about several calls on the pager that were as described above an ill female…a bleeder…and 2 jelly fish stings that brought out 17 FFs…He went on to say he did not identify who these individuals were but still wanted to know why they are continuing on the type of medical call….and had the VFD in fact decided to maintain the position of going on every medical call….

CP-“Not every medical call, no sir. We do call off.  If it’s a nosebleed we’re not gonna go. If it’s a bleeding, doesn’t tell us where the bleeding is we’re going. Every call is important, every single call and I don’t care how much it costs we’re going to every single call unless it comes over the pager where it’s we’re not needed.”

BC- HUH?…The Chief is going on “every single call” unless they are not needed according to the pager…But…earlier he said you cannot tell from the pager?….

BC-Somebody please…ask AMR when do they require the VFD?….What qualifications do the VFD have that 2 AMR ambulances with 5-6 EMT/Paramedics do not?…How many fire/EMS personnel can fit into the average LBTS home?….

CD- Went on to ask if the VFD had “the finances to deal with that?”

CP- ” Yes sir, I’m the Chief of this department and I take care of all the finances and we’re doing fine. We’re not over budget, we’re right on budget. Even with all these calls we’re still right on budget.”

BC- What background does Chief Perkins have to “take care of the finances’?…..We hear that there has been discussion by the Chief that there is a concern about the costs…of the call…away from the podium …

Commissioner Dodd said that was terrific…and finished off by asking about the poles and the life rings that we were told were painted by the municipal workers months ago…the Chief looked a little lost on this one…asking the Town Manager if they were ordered…and seeing an affirmative response said the poles were waiting..and then they would go up with the life ring arrival…anytime now……

CD- decided to “recap” the new truck question he had sent the Chief pertaining to its cost and negotiations…

CP- ” The ah, new truck we called up where we bought the old truck from UCrest Fire Department in New York and ah, we asked the price, they gave it to us over the phone and we went back to our monthly meeting , discussed it agreed on it called them back up and said we’d like to buy it. And that was it….http://www.ucrestfire.org/

BC- We hear the VM was back home in Buffalo and made a visit to see and check out the truck…and in his Commissioner comments the VM admitted he contacted and negotiated for the new truck…saying he got a $40,000 dollar truck for $11,000…HMMM…. another Ethics conflict?….He had to admit it…because who buys a firetruck sight unseen with just one phone call?….YIKES!

Commissioner Dodd asked who the “we” were…and the Chief answered the whole fire department…the whole fire department voted…

CP- ” Yes sir, we don’t make individual decisions, we vote as a group.”

Commissioner Dodd again told the chief he was not trying to trap him.. with an audible remark from the VM ” Yes you are!”…The Mayor responded to the VM…”Please!”…

NOT DONE YET….THE SETUP….

CP-” I’d like to say one more thing about the Hipaa violation the problem is that um, a lot of information comes over these pagers addresses, names, sicknesses and um, the problem is, is Mr Dodd you having the pager MAY BE a Hipaa violation because you’re not part of the fire department. You MAY not be able to know this information and that’s where the problem lies. So we MAY have to pull the pager. I’m sorry but UNTIL WE GET LEGAL ADVICE, but that’s where we stand. I THINK THAT’S THE ISSUE.’

BC- You betcha that’s the issue…the plan…the setup…get that pager away from Comm. Dodd….the next day the Town manager asked Comm. Dodd for the pager…Now why would the Town Manager be involved?…Blurry again….Comm. Dodd did not have it…and returned the pager to the Chief…and as stated above informed the Chief/Manager and Town Attorney of Marc Furth, the AMR monthly meetings…and why he felt it was desired by the VFD for him to return it.

This writer was very interested in the Chief’s assertions of “may be”…and “until we get  legal advice”…and the big guffaw…”where the problem lies and I think that’s the issue”…Yep…that’s the issue alright!

The Mayor took issue with the Chief calling Commissioner Dodd…Mr Dodd…correcting him for future reference…She then acknowledged the next Commissioner to speak…

Commissioner Dodd said this should not be allowed as he asked and it was stated by the Chief he (Dodd) was the only member of the dais to follow the 24 hour rules…and if it was not going to be required for his fellow Commissioners it should be discarded with a vote…

The Mayor understood his stance and while she “appreciated it” and agreed with him …as Chair she was going to let the others be recognized to speak…

Commissioner Clottey did not have a question for the Chief…but did have one for the Town Manager…and as has happened in the past…Comm. Clottey asked the right question that brought out a very different answer than the previous responses seemed to imply for the Town Manager… She (Clottey) asked about the trucks the Town owned and the Police cars…At previous meetings the Town Manager had answered that the Town owned all of the trucks and the police cars…this meeting she answered more in the abstract until the BSO police spelled it out…

TN- ” Yes, all the police cars THAT WERE TRANSFERRED in the BSO TRANSITION and equipment are Town property. I’d have  to check the inventory.”

The Vice Mayor then asked Chief Gooding how many police cars were assigned to the district…and the Chief said 24 that are “take home” vehicles…the VM asked how many the Town owned and the Chief also used the “TRANSITION’ stating 3 patrol cars and possibly a command vehicle…therefore the Town owns 4 of the 24 vehicles and BSO Sheriff’s office owns the rest!…
BC- We were under the inpression when we were told the Town needed to purchase the lat VFD firetruck that the Town owned all the police vehicles….

The VM couldn’t help but take one last shot at Comm. Dodd by asking Chief Perkins about the sirens…the noise…and the “charges” of danger from responding to the calls…asking how many in a day…the Chief responded 3.5 to 4 calls a day…($70- ? x 4)….The VM asked where the sirens were coming from and the Chief said from our neighbors ( Pompano Beach/ Ft. Laud. EMS)…..going to Holy Cross through our town…The VM asked and answered his own question about sirens from the VFD informing the audience that a Hazmat call received that very day was answered with no sirens…and asking about the caution the volunteers take in responding to a call to get to the station and to the scene…The chief responded in the affirmative to the VM’s leading questions…

The VM went on to again lead the Chief about the new truck and ISO…

CP-” Ah, yes they were here last week and they wanted to know if it (the truck) was on its way and ah, he he waited long enough to turn in his information. He couldn’t wait any longer so , and he’s gonna  come back on the 19th where he’s gonna do that class here and he’s gonna then check the truck out and make sure it’s what we said it was.”

The VM asked the chief if he had any indication of how it went with ISO and the equipment and such….

CP-” He, um indicated to me we were doing a very good job protecting this town.”

The VM thanked him…

BC- The ISO only checks for response time…and equipment…they do not deal with management…and it will be interesting to see what response times were given to the ISO?….

Comm. Silverstone- ” I just had a point of clarification for Commissioner Dodd. I am the one who mentioned the ah, the ah, the ability for the Chief to have 24 hour notice on questions. And the reason that was done is TO MAKE SURE THAT HE COULD HAVE THE PROPER ANSWERS AND DO HINGS IN A PROFESSIONAL MANNER.  Last meeting you (Dodd) made a um, note to I think Chief Gooding that you’re (Gooding) a professional, you run a tight ship,you, but you know what’s going on so you have no problems answering these questions. Well, that was a slap in the face I feel to the VFD. The only reason that was put on there to give enough time to GIVE THE RIGHT ANSWERS instead of saying I’ll have to come back to you, I’ll have to come back to you.That was the only reason. I think anybody allowed to ask any questions or anybody up here any questions they want to but the only purpose of doing that was to GIVE HIM ( Chief Perkins) enough time so he WOULD BE PREPARED you know a CORRECT ANSWER so he doesn’t have to come back to you. That was, that was the full intent of that happening. If we want to change that I have no problem with that, that was it, that was the only reason that was done. In fact I gave Scott Gooding, Chief Gooding a heads up on an issue and I believe he thanked me through the Town Manager about it, you know thanks for the heads up and so forth. I try to do that when possible so when you come up here we have a meeting, we’re not wasting time, so they have to come back at a future date with the answers. It doesn’t make any sense. That’s why I proposed that to happen and that’s all I have.”

BC- Sometimes Comm. Silverstone less is more…especially when throughout this dissertation you have said what most believe…. the Chief  in the eyes of the “2-Hats” cannot answer questions without being “prepared”…the question though…. “prepared” by whom?…And did you send questions and give a “heads up” to BSO fire/EMS in 2006-2007?..

CD- Made one last attempt to clarify his point that the other 2 departments had no problem with answering questions without a written inquiry…and again called for a vote to dispense with the requirement which had only been adhered to by him….He made the motion…and it was 2nd by Comm. Silverstone…

The Mayor repeated the motion…making the mistake of saying it was made by the VM…with the VM responding…” Not me!”…and correcting herself to say Comm. Dodd…with Comm. Silverstone again asking Chief Perkins if he ha “no problem” with it…the Chief acknowledged he had none…

NOT OVER YET…

As they prepared to vote…the VM…chimed in ” Wait, I have a question on this. I’m gonna vote yes” ( why does he say how he is voting prior to pushing his button?)” But, if this turns into a snooker to go after our chief or Police Chief It’s not gonna last.”

BC- The audience laughed loudly!…

Passes 5-0…

More to come……

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