EMS volunteer criticizes Springfield Twp. officials

By Mary Grzebieniak



A township EMS volunteer scolded Springfield Township trustees at their meeting, stating they have not enforced the requirements they set two years ago for the fire chief and battalion chief’s positions.

Mike Wright complained during Wednesday’s session that Matt Gebhardt, who has been fire chief for two years, has still not obtained his Emergency Medical Technician Basic card. Wright said Battalion Chief Don Wharry also has failed to obtain the credential.

He said trustees hired Gebhardt and Wharry on the condition that they obtain their cards within two years. But Wright said the two years were up in January 2011, and trustees have taken no action. He said some firefighters did not apply for the fire chief’s job specifically because of the EMT requirement.

Wright says Gebhardt’s lack of the credential means he cannot be “in control” on 80 percent of the township’s emergency calls that are ambulance calls.

Gebhardt responded, saying he has completed the class for the EMT card and worked the required hours on the ambulance but that he failed the test. He said he is studying to retake it in May. Karen Philibin, township EMS captain, said Wharry began the class but did not complete it and thus is ineligible to get the credential without starting the process all over again. Former Trustee Jim Holleran asked whether Wharry will be required to reimburse the township for the cost of the class.

Trustee Rick Jones said he had not been aware of the situation.

Trustee Robert Orr said the trustees have the prerogative to grant an extension or to remove the men from their positions.

Tom Mason, a paramedic for the township, charged that he and others who had all the credentials two years ago were rejected for the fire chief’s position.

Trustees declined to go into executive session Wednesday to discuss the matter. But Jones promised, “We will definitely address it.”

Also Wednesday, trustees approved purchase of an air card from AT&T so the ambulance service can transmit EKGs from the ambulance to St. Elizabeth Health Center under a new program in which the hospital provides the modem.

Now that it can be transmitted while the ambulance is en route, Philibin said she expects lives will be saved because the time to get patients into treatment will be reduced. The program is expected to be online within a week.

Gebhardt also reported the township’s new ambulance probably will be in service by late spring. The vehicle, which costs approximately $153,000, is a Braun/Ford E450 and currently is being lettered before delivery. Trustees signed a letter of intent to purchase the ambulance last fall but must still pass a motion to purchase it. It eventually will replace the township’s 2001 model ambulance. A third ambulance is a 2005 model. The new vehicle will be purchased with money from the township’s vehicle-replacement levy.

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