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Trumbull Finance Board Member: Don't Make TEMS 'Another Casualty of Trumbull Politics'

By Tom Tesoro

As seen recently at Stern Village and our Senior Commission, there is a disturbing trend to inject politics into what heretofore have been non-political entities.  The result has been confusion and, in the case of Stern Village, the disruption of what was a very tranquil circumstance. The unhappy results of those situations serve as a red flag as we contemplate the immediate and long term future of the Trumbull Emergency Medical Services (TEMS). 

Trumbull engaged the services of the Holdsworth Group to study the TEMS and to make recommendations with respect to Facilities, Staffing, Organization Structure and Funding, among other items.  This report has great value and many of their recommendations deserve further study.  While I have some issues at the broadness of certain conclusions, particularly the reliance on an anonymous survey where less than half of those contacted ultimately participated and the lack of bipartisanship with respect to Elected Officials who participated, it would be wrong to dismiss the document out of hand. Those failings can be corrected as we move forward.

The Board of Finance (BOF) will be considering a supplemental appropriation for the creation of a new position, the TEMS Chief. This position is comparable to Chief of Police. As a BOF elected member, I want to support this recommendation. In the light of recent events noted in paragraph one above, I want to be certain that this time we do things the right way by insuring a transparent process with recommendations that are properly studied and documented.

We need a job description , we need to know how other Towns our size handle their EMS services, and whether they have or are contemplating a position such as this and what they are paying. We don’t want to pay too much or too little and that research is essential.  We need to understand why this must happen now as opposed to making this request part of the upcoming budget.  Supplemental appropriations have become increasingly common instead of rare. Since TEMS has been in existence for 36 years without this position, we need to understand why waiting a few more months is impossible. I want to understand the relationship between this position and the EMS Commission. I want to hear from the existing Commission members as well as long-time members, such as Vi Watson, who served our Community as a Commissioner for many years and whose service and perspective I respect. If all of those elements are present at our next meeting I will be happy to support a supplemental appropriation.

For the long term I recommend a bi-partisan group to review all recommendations, call witnesses and do the research needed before making these important decisions. We need strong public involvement. The foolishness we have seen at Stern Village must not be repeated. Discussion around the future of TEMS must be transparent and multi-partisan. After all, it could be any of us who may need the services of TEMS. We deserve a process that will lead to the best result.

Tom Tesoro

Elected Member, Board of Finance (D)

Carol Hudak February 09, 2013 at 01:46 AM
Tom, please alert us to the date and time of this BOF meeting. SV is a disgrace, and it sounds like TEMS is going in the same direction. There's an all-too-familiar odor to this.
Thomas Tesoro February 09, 2013 at 05:05 PM
Hi Carol, The meeting is this Thursday, February 14 at 7pm in Town Hall. I do not know the room we will be using.
Lynn Heuer February 14, 2013 at 11:04 PM
TEMS has been declining for many years. It is a business like any other business, and I agree it needs an experienced chief. But it should stop with a chief who reports to the first selectman and an administrative person. There is no need to expend more money at this time for assistants. TEMS used to be the "cadillac" of volunteer services. There are many 15-year plus members who left. It would have been interesting to have Holdsworth talk to these members and get their opinion. Holdsworth only went back one or two years. Perhaps the individuals who participated in the survey are too new to have experienced the problems that occurred.

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