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Home > Topics > Fire-EMS

Mass. medic loses job for not becoming firefighter

She said she requested to enroll in the academy to meet the new requirements, but the fire chief denied her request

By EMS1 Staff

BELCHERTOWN, Mass. — One of four Belchertown paramedics laid-off after not becoming a firefighter lashed out at town officials, saying she was not told that it was required to keep her job.

April Fernandes was in tears Monday after selectmen approved Fire Chief Edward Bock’s restructuring of the ambulance service – which included laying off four long-serving and stand-alone paramedics, reports.

The new arrangement, approved 3-1, involves combing departments to provide a fire-based EMS, and requiring all medics to also serve as firefighters. The four losing their positions were not trained firefighters.

Fernandes said she requested to attend the academy in April, but Bock refused her request, and now she has lost her job despite efforts to meet the new requirements.

She said she also asked Bock three years ago if she needed to complete the firefighter academy to keep her position, and he told her it was not necessary.

"[Bock] did not tell us the truth – I was lied to,” Fernandes said.

When Selectman William Barnett – the only member to vote against approving the restructuring – asked Bock if he provided the four an opportunity to enroll in the firefighter academy to keep their jobs, he replied "No.”

Barnett also asked if the chief knew why the four did not want to also be firefighters, adding, “Do they know they will be laid off?”

“I am not sure,” Bock said

Barnett said he was very concerned by how the situation as handled.

“That is not how somebody should be treated,” he said. “That is not the way I was brought up and not how Belchertown should operate.”

Selectman Ron Aponte supported the change that resulted in the layoffs.

“It is not the chief’s job to find out their career aspirations,” he said. “The most important thing for us to consider is the safety of the town.”

In addition to Fernandes, Jack Kennedy, Emily Chandler and Kate Sullivan lost their jobs.

Belchertown resident Paul Fenn, who serves as a firefighter-paramedic in nearby Agawam, gave the selectman a one-page document urging the selectman to investigate the matter.

“The town is laying off the past union president (Kennedy) and all full-time females (Chandler, Sullivan and Fernandes) without giving any of them the option to upgrade to firefighters,” he wrote. “Does the town need to potentially put themselves in the sights of a lawsuit that the taxpayers don’t want to pay?” 

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Johnathan MacIntyre Johnathan MacIntyre Friday, June 13, 2014 1:13:30 PM I smell a lawsuit for wrongful dismissal. If it's not in your contract, then they can't fire you!
Kevin Collinge Kevin Collinge Friday, June 13, 2014 1:15:59 PM Tell me this fool chief is going to lose his job.. He better cause the lawsuit that Township is going to lose will cost them more than they could imagine.
Jeannie Hoard Ammermann Jeannie Hoard Ammermann Friday, June 13, 2014 1:16:18 PM Once again we see personal agenda's hard at work! This is wrong, we all know it is wrong and individuals who misrepresented the requirements should be disciplined and all who were laid off should be reinstated and allowed the time necessary to obtain FF status as required..
Shane Murray Shane Murray Friday, June 13, 2014 1:16:59 PM Seems pretty biased... I understand cross-training and stipulations of employment, but concessions can be made to allow time to accomplish what seems to be sudden requirements of the position. It seems as though the positions are not going to change as far as duties and they have been doing their duties for some time now, so I think it is unfair. The Selectmen who approved this must have an agenda along with the Chief.
Christopher Maloney Christopher Maloney Friday, June 13, 2014 1:22:16 PM The concept of fire based EMS sucks the big one anyway. There is NO way I'll ever be convinced that it works to the benefit of the public to meld two specialized crafts like firefighting and EMS. They MUST be separate to work to their full potential. Don't even get me going on prioritizing one over the other..
Greg Hampton Greg Hampton Friday, June 13, 2014 1:33:46 PM What strikes me is the fact that Chief did not deny the accusations made by Fernandes. In essence he confirmed them in an open meeting. This move is alleged to be about the safety of the community. Bovine Scat. This was about money, which is fine if it is...but be up front with people about it. They way this is playing out, the scheme is going to cost in legal fees way more than the town will have saved by the layoffs. I hope that the laid off personnel will take a bit of advice from someone that has been there and done that with respect to suing an employer. Let it go. Don't sue. You'll possibly win and win big, but there will be nothing but acrimony with this chief and this town board towards you, and they WILL be looking to mess with you every which way they can...and generally they'll be able to get away with it. If you all have good work records, look for work elsewhere and leave these dishonest people behind. Forgive them, forget them, and leave the matter to the Lord to deal with. I wish I had forgiven and forgotten back in my time of trial...I'd have been much better off.
Jason Bokow Jason Bokow Friday, June 13, 2014 1:35:04 PM did any one else notice "ALL FULLTIME FEMALES" biiiiiig lawsuit coming!!!!!
Johnny Sablowski Johnny Sablowski Friday, June 13, 2014 1:36:10 PM Sounds like a discrimination suit if all four were female. What an azz
Mary Lynn Smith Mary Lynn Smith Friday, June 13, 2014 1:42:22 PM I miss the days of fire being fire and medics being medics. Many fire fighters I know only got into the medic side to land a fire job. I LOVE being a medic and have no desire to be a fire fighter so am unable to find a reliable paid position as a medic. It is sad. I very much miss the old days. That said, this situation seems to have some other issues at its core. Would love to know the final outcome on this one.
Christopher Belanger Christopher Belanger Friday, June 13, 2014 1:43:30 PM Stupid fire based decision that will decrease the level of care... also convenient that he got rid of the females... won't save a dime on the long run
Gene Iannuzzi Gene Iannuzzi Friday, June 13, 2014 1:47:56 PM yet another example of a hostile takeover by a fire department on thye verge of getting its budget cut unless it shows productivity. when will this insanity end?
Rene Buathier-Drone Rene Buathier-Drone Friday, June 13, 2014 1:51:03 PM Same sort of thing happened to me
Ed Hillenbrand Ed Hillenbrand Friday, June 13, 2014 1:59:13 PM Lawsuit here we come!
Mary Reece Mary Reece Friday, June 13, 2014 2:10:49 PM This is a lawsuit waiting to be filed.
Jeannine Crowfoot-Anglum Jeannine Crowfoot-Anglum Friday, June 13, 2014 2:11:57 PM Three women, one man, interesting.
Jeannie Hoard Ammermann Jeannie Hoard Ammermann Friday, June 13, 2014 2:12:59 PM but it's happening all over the country Christopher... mainly in large departments.. Not sure if this move by the many are an attempt to save dollars and cut back on employee numbers or some other reason but what happened here is surely wrong...
J.t. Cantrell J.t. Cantrell Friday, June 13, 2014 2:20:37 PM Terribly sorry that a potential career employee lost their position simply because she was not given a chance. Should there be litigation I would not want to be defending the township.
Charice Conroy Charice Conroy Friday, June 13, 2014 2:30:51 PM Our departments here in Killeen mesh Fire and EMS and for a good reason. Firefighters don't just go on fire calls then go on medical calls as well. The ambulance crew goes to fire scenes as well for EMS support and in those situations it is beneficial for the EMTs and Paramedics to also be firefighters and have the knowledge base. If you are working for a FIRE department and not a private EMS company then I don't see why they shouldn't be firefighters even if that's not what they do. This particular situation was handled all wrong. Here in Killeen they give their firefighters 2 years to become paramedics within starting their job at the department and EMTs and Paramedics have to enroll in the academy and complete it if they want to keep their jobs. In this case they should've given them the opportunity to enroll into the academy and complete it. This was poor handling.
TherealJason Hashman TherealJason Hashman Friday, June 13, 2014 2:35:58 PM The chief here needs to be the one laid off. Sounds like he was biased towards the medics who are now without a paycheck. In the late 80's my dads department mandated that all firefighters must be EMT's. In the mid 90's, the department moved to an all paramedic approach for the paid department. Those firefighters who were already in the department who didn't want to become medics were grandfathered in and remained EMT's, while the others, as well as all new hires were paramedics. This worked great for each shift as the OIC could assign people to different units each shift and it wouldn't burn you out. The last of the firefighter/EMTs just retired, so now the department is all Medics, even the Chief. There should have been a "grandfather" clause in this situation as well. Its not right to get rid of experienced personnel in this manner. It also sounds like he stood in the way of them doing what was needed to keep their jobs...
Christopher Maloney Christopher Maloney Friday, June 13, 2014 2:47:29 PM Charice Conroy Here with fire based EMS it's fire OR EMS. That's the mentality. If you have a fire good luck getting EMS. We are a stand alone EMS operation, municipally owned and operated 24/7. The fire is separate, paid volunteer. Works great, and no one goes without services ever. I realize that not all fire based ems operations are the same, but I believe it's more the norm to want to be fire first. I don't criticize that, fire operations are more glamorous than granny taking a dump on your cot....but some folks can't be good at both together. I would have an EMT who chose to be there for me rather than have it part of his "job requirement".
Paul Ringheiser Paul Ringheiser Friday, June 13, 2014 2:50:02 PM Gotta be more to it.
Lynn Briggs Lynn Briggs Friday, June 13, 2014 2:52:40 PM WHY do you HAVE to be both? Do you know every time I am on scene with FF....they (barr none) ask me to hold their cell phones, call their wives.....WHY?? Because EMS is dedicated to EMS and Not fighting fires.....Its nice to have a cross over...BUT fired because you DON'T?? Really......You can't have Everybody Hard to fight fires...YOU need people Excited to be EMS FULL TIME and take care of the Fire fighters and PD......
Mitch Shair Mitch Shair Friday, June 13, 2014 2:54:07 PM If the information was withheld from only the women and the past union rep a lawyer will eat that up. That said I find it hard to believe that all the other medics knew what was going on and the information did not filter down.
Friday, June 13, 2014 2:56:36 PM I see a job opening for chief very soon.
Nicholas Koch Nicholas Koch Friday, June 13, 2014 3:28:42 PM 99% of calls for my area are EMS, why do they need to become fire? I could see it being a full time requirement for hire, but there should also be opportunity to take the course as well as grandfathering in for those that have many years of service already.
Matthew Whitt Matthew Whitt Friday, June 13, 2014 3:32:24 PM If they cared about the safety of the town they would not force people to fight fires that don't wish to fight fires. Fire-based EMS has proven to not be effective or less expensive despite what fire unions claim. All they did here was ruin a good clinician and place patient care into the hands of people that only want to work the ambulance secondary to fighting fire.
Matthew Whitt Matthew Whitt Friday, June 13, 2014 3:34:04 PM Then why not have an EMS department that takes over fire? How about fireman work for an EMS chief? Makes more sense since 90% of the call volume is EMS and not fire.
Mark Mann Mark Mann Friday, June 13, 2014 3:39:16 PM I hope they sue their balls off and win
Ray Warren Ray Warren Friday, June 13, 2014 3:51:39 PM What race were they?? If they were all white, definite discrimination..
Sherry Karnes Sherry Karnes Friday, June 13, 2014 3:56:44 PM i had this same situation happen to me, but I was cross-trained. the fire chief made it clear women should be barefoot and pregnant, not FD or EMS. I was dismissed 3 days after my 1 year probationary period. the Union did squat, the city manager did squat and I couldn't find any attorney to take my case. I just hope he realizes this is the 21st Century, but Karma is a bitch. If those medics can sue, then sue big and make sure all involved in this decision making get canned without tenure or retirement. Unless, they have their OWN 401K. I am so sick and tired of hearing stories like this. Someone has to pay and pay dearly. I am NOT a fan of FD based EMS either.
Patti Moore Patti Moore Friday, June 13, 2014 4:00:05 PM That's a like for your opinion, not on the story.
Ron Orso Ron Orso Friday, June 13, 2014 4:15:07 PM Not all females Jack is not a girls name
Sherry Karnes Sherry Karnes Friday, June 13, 2014 4:23:12 PM This story unfortunately has been going on for over 20 yrs in the FD and EMS services. I don't know if it will ever end.
Sherry Karnes Sherry Karnes Friday, June 13, 2014 4:30:17 PM Unfortunately, this is still going on in the FD and EMS services. EMS is over 40 yrs old. It is a specialized skill. Just like FD is a specialized skill. Sorry, if I'm hurt, I want a Paramedic that is a medic first. Not a FF who was forced to go to medic school to keep his job. The two can work as one dept, but the two specialties have got to be separate. Just my humble opinion.
Christopher Belanger Christopher Belanger Friday, June 13, 2014 4:43:16 PM Sad as all research points to easier to train a medic to preform fire fighting than the other way around..m. I call BS on town safety as it would have been safer to keep them on instead of replacing them...
Laura Bumpus Laura Bumpus Friday, June 13, 2014 4:55:57 PM Hmmm, I don't like that one smidge!
Skip Kirkwood Skip Kirkwood Friday, June 13, 2014 5:22:50 PM Invitations for them to apply for paramedic positions with Durham County EMS - no firefighting required! Oh yes - salaries for paramedics, cops, and firefighters in this region are all on par with each other - benefits, retirement too.
Christine Scarlotta Jones Christine Scarlotta Jones Friday, June 13, 2014 5:28:44 PM All I can say is WOW! This whole case stinks to high heaven! What a big load of crap going on in Belchertown. Sue them jackasses into oblivion because they deserve it!
J Jones Burton J Jones Burton Friday, June 13, 2014 6:05:38 PM hav ing spent 28 yrs as an AEMT and 18 yrs with a VFD and being a past Chief.. since the Chief discriminated aginst the EMS personel.. well thats what the DOJ and FBI are for.. discriminitory actions by public officials
Ty Reinke Ty Reinke Friday, June 13, 2014 6:07:27 PM Hope they sue that city and the chief! That's BS that it's not the chiefs job to find out their career aspirations! Not a very good leader!
Ann Marie Pfohl Ann Marie Pfohl Friday, June 13, 2014 6:30:45 PM Ridiculous since there are usually more EMS calls than fire calls.
Sharon McGehee Sharon McGehee Friday, June 13, 2014 6:39:15 PM I noticed that too. Plus i noticed she even put in for going to the fire academy and was denied. So its not like she wasn't trying to save her job. That is a huge lawsuit right there.
Michael A. Smith Michael A. Smith Friday, June 13, 2014 6:41:11 PM Charice Conroy EMS and the FIRE service are 2 different crafts all together. In Chicago, NYC, LA the EMS guys, are EMS guys and the FIRE guys are FIRE guys. When you force, say a fire fighter to be EMS, what you get is someone that doesnt care about that particular craft and is what we call, a 10%er.. Meaning 10% of the time, they have a clue. In this particular case, they are wrong to do that. Those people served that community. And in return, that community shit on them. This is something we are seeing ALL OVER THE COUNTRY. We are turning into nothing more then widgets to be toyed with when management wants. It is a shame!
Jason Bokow Jason Bokow Friday, June 13, 2014 6:43:08 PM Sharon McGehee i hope they damn well do sue the crap out of em...they trust the "females"enough to let em run stand alone medic units but not become firemen? This male chauvinist shit needs to stop...My partner now is a female and one of the best EMT's ive ever seen...skills and ability matter....not whether or not u wear a bra. (although some guys DO need em lmao)
Sharon McGehee Sharon McGehee Friday, June 13, 2014 6:46:18 PM I agree with you. I worked for many years in a service of fire based ems. It has become such a political game. Especially since i worked for a private ambulance that did the transports that the fire department basically didn't wanna handle. Plus there were many times where we were looked down upon because we weren't fire fighters and basically treated like crap. Not to mention the waste of resources. For example having a one little old lady having a stroke you don't need ten people there. or a three car accident needing to have over twenty people on scene. Its just crazy.
Michael A. Smith Michael A. Smith Friday, June 13, 2014 7:01:29 PM Sharon McGehee Communities do one of two things from my observation. TOO Much or NOT Enough.. I also work for a private EMS company. On those contracts, your moved from station to station at a whim, because someone doesnt like you etc. Its simple common sense when responding to calls. ALS calls (EMD categorized) Should get a EMS unit and FD unit.. Not 20 people or just the 2 on the Ambulance. But heck what do I know, I just do the job.. Every fire chief has their own opinions. They are like little kids in sandboxes. You arent playing with MY toys.. I dont like little tommy mom, dont let him come over again. Go back to common sense answers for common sense problems. You look all over the country, AUTOMATIC AIDE. What that means, We got rid of our Vol/Part time/POCs and we cannot handle OUR calls. Sometimes we as people, cant get out of our own way.. Its like watching a bus crash in slow motion.
Michelle Wilkinson Michelle Wilkinson Friday, June 13, 2014 7:33:32 PM I see million dollars in settlements when this is over
Roy Daniels Roy Daniels Friday, June 13, 2014 7:41:37 PM Fire Chief should be gone. No doubts about it. Cant keep someone like that around. Bad blood.
Wes Ogilvie Wes Ogilvie Friday, June 13, 2014 7:51:47 PM Assuming the facts as presented are true, it's got a ton of potential for litigation. Again, assuming the facts are true, I can see the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and/or the National Labor Relations Board being very interested in the four paramedics who weren't retained being three women and the union president. I'm guessing the chief will soon be learning about what lawyers call "disparate impact."
Jason Bokow Jason Bokow Friday, June 13, 2014 7:56:23 PM i completely i get saving money but the fact is u DO loose the specialized skills that come with dedicated EMS vs integrated...i dont care if they are both working in the same department but leave EMS to the EMT's and FIRE to the firemen....end of story. ive worked in both types
Joe Paczkowski Joe Paczkowski Friday, June 13, 2014 8:09:52 PM I think you have this backwards. People who don't want to be firefighters aren't going to be hired. People who don't want to be paramedics, but are willing to do their time on the ambulance, on the other hand, will be hired in spades.
Michael A. Smith Michael A. Smith Friday, June 13, 2014 8:16:00 PM Greg, I appreciate that you went thru something similar. BUT, if they allow this to happen and dont fight it, the city next to them will see that and say, wow, lets give it a try. Then all the departments in the county say, wew, worked twice, lets try. Before you know it, we are all mules. We do matter. We are professionals and should get the same treatment as those in private sector. Its a shame that we read, time after time, people in a profession that HELPS others, being used, beaten up and vilified when we try to fight for what is right. It is simply about what is right and what is not. Private EMS companies need to make a profit, but that doesnt mean they should have the right to beat up their employees like slaves. Municipal Fire and EMS have responsibilities to their communities, but, they also have obligations to those they employ to treat them with respect and fairness. Too often you see "agendas" being launched by these managers of departments for their own personal gain. Not meaning financial, but for typically selfish reasons. If you hire a person to do a job, and they do that job, leave em alone. It seems they keep trying to get more out of us then is or should be expected. I work/ed for a company that forced OT on guys that were already working 120 hours bi-weekly as their regular schedule. Some of these guys/gals are working upwards of 180 hours bi-weekly with massive forced OT. That is insane, considering at the end of the year, they are barely making $30,000 for 3,000-3,500 hours worked. Its a shame we couldnt wave a magic wand and get some of these folks to see, their actions affect more then just the 2-3 people they are messing with. It becomes a cancer in our entire profession. << Ranting over.. Thanks for listening
Brian Fendley Brian Fendley Friday, June 13, 2014 8:49:03 PM Actually it was one guy and three women. Unless the fourth womans name is "Jack"
Robert Vroman Robert Vroman Friday, June 13, 2014 9:16:33 PM Charice Conroy Tell me though, in those combined departments how many are FIRE departments (as you put it) as opposed to EMS departments that also happen to work the occasional fire? Keep the rescue side out as there are many third service EMS agencies who handle all rescue/technical rescue/water, etc. while the fire department does nothing more than stand by with a charged line. Two separate governmental services allow each to focus on their specialty, the fire department to knock down the red stuff, and the EMS department to handle ANY situation that involves a patient.
Charice Conroy Charice Conroy Friday, June 13, 2014 9:16:35 PM I know that Fire and EMS are two different crafts. As I am both. I said it is beneficial to know both rolls. I didn't specify that in Killeen it's just the fire department. Most of the time Engine rolls on medical calls, for lift assistance or if it's a priority one in which most of our calls here are. Most of the time Engine shows up before the ambulance crew which is why I say it's beneficial on their part to have a medical based knowledge so like some of you said there aren't those "20 people" standing around doing nothing but getting in the way. And vice versa I'm not saying the ambulance crew needs to roll onto a fire scene and start fighting a fire I'm saying that in their case it's good to have a fire based knowledge to know what they're looking at other than the fact that man thats a big flame and a lot of smoke. I never said these people in this situation were treated fairly because they weren't. They were given false information in the beginning of their employment and if policy had even changed then they weren't properly informed and given the opportunity to join the academy. It is beneficial to be both but only work as the one you specifically wanted. And Michael A. Smith I'm in Texas so you can name big departments just as well as I can but here firefighters are also emts and medics and vice versa. You may not see it the way I see it but both occupations are to save lives. Not just one or the other and besides you can never stop learning. There's no harm in departments wanting their employees to have both certs especially not when they pay for you to get it. It's good to be ready for anything and everything.
Matthew Whitt Matthew Whitt Friday, June 13, 2014 9:34:50 PM And you my friend just spoke the truth!
Brian Fendley Brian Fendley Friday, June 13, 2014 9:38:22 PM One thing not mentioned in the article was both agencies were recommended for merging in March 2006 and the actual merger occurred in 2010 (according to the local paper that serves Belchertown) So exactly how many EMS personnel did enroll and pass the fire academy and made the transition or were some already members of the fire department? You can't tell me a town of about 13.000 spread out over 55 square miles was relying on just 4 paramedics to run ambulance service. I could not access the full article from 2006 and 2010 without paying for it so forget that. Personally if what's reported is true that's not how I would have handled it had I been in the position to make the decision. However with a merger that's approx. 3 years old I find it highly suspect that personnel didn't know what was going on. I believe there's more to this story than what's being reported. The Fire/EMS Department, it's employees and the City Selectmen all share culpability in my opinion.
Maureen Baymler Maureen Baymler Friday, June 13, 2014 11:58:04 PM Brian Fendley Jack Kennedy, the only male fired, is the former union president. Apparently that is his sin, rather than being female.
Brian Fendley Brian Fendley Saturday, June 14, 2014 12:02:59 AM Maureen I disagree, that's the opinion not a stated fact of Selectmen Barnett. Mr. Kennedy was a past union president not the current one. I think many things stink in this article and one of them is the truth is not being fully told.
Steve Bowker Steve Bowker Saturday, June 14, 2014 2:46:57 AM Any firefighter will tell you that the majority of calls are EMS related, and it's very sad that the town will be losing the services of 4 Medics all because of what I feel is nothing more than a personal agenda, I've been on Fire only, EMS only, and Fire based EMS departments...and each has it's advantages and disadvantages. The trend seems to be to transition to Fire based EMS simply because that is where the money is. This Chief is not only giving his town and department a black eye but he has some serious ethics issues in the way he's handling this. These Medics have a good case for wrongful termination, and I hope they pursue it to the fullest.
Rick Stanger Rick Stanger Saturday, June 14, 2014 5:18:38 AM Say what you want but it is the system down here in Florida too. And if you CAN'T do the physical agility part you do NOT make it. Drag a 250lb dummy 200 yards, handle a single 3" hose and put out barrel fire, shoulder lift 200 lb dummy up hose tower ( 6 flights) and back down, and here is where we lose most is the blind enclosure where you go through wooden and cardboard maze through 50' full smoke, most places with air tank in front of you, full smoke no visibilty. This is the norm through entire industry in the States. Its for the patients safety but also ours as Firefighters, you want to be assured that if you and a partner go into a structure and something happens to you that your partner can get you out, sorry I agree with chief. By the way Mass has tons of private Ambulance services that employ Paramedics.
Jeffrey Morehead Jeffrey Morehead Saturday, June 14, 2014 5:55:45 AM Not all paramedics/emt's are cut out to be firefighters. It takes a special person to be a fire fighter. Not everyone can be a fire fighter, just like not everyone can be a medic/emt. Shame on them for "making" them become firefighters or lose their job!
Anna Menchaca Anna Menchaca Saturday, June 14, 2014 6:42:02 AM Women only make up 5% of fire services nationwide. Its actually funny because now days on any dept. EMS runs are the lions share of work preformed and disproportionately large majority of calls received. So as one of the politicians noted about keeping the city safe certainly her skills as a medic would serve that statement better.
Rick Pearson Rick Pearson Saturday, June 14, 2014 7:07:05 AM when you get hired here while you are in the academy your first weeks is firefighting training then EMS when you graduate your a firefighter/emt your can go get your paramedic if you want and then transfer over to the medic side completely at that point
Joe Kyser Joe Kyser Saturday, June 14, 2014 8:06:51 AM WTF with the pop up ads that can't be closed and cleared so the article can be read???????????
Paul Fenn Paul Fenn Saturday, June 14, 2014 8:15:12 AM Hello, fellow FD and/or EMS providers! I want to thank you ALL for your opinions and support in this very sad issue. Ms. Fernandes is my life partner and I just want to be very clear that the statements and opinions I express to all of my Brothers and Sisters are mine alone, and not of April's. She is not one to soapbox, gloat, or martyr. She only wanted fair and equal opportunity, and doesn't want to see anyone hurt or the Town of Belchertown be given a black eye. She has given several years of dedicated service to the community and despite recent events, still loves the town we live in and all of the wonderful people she has worked with, both fire and EMS. That being said, for all of you who think there "must be more to this story," I assure you, there is. This is only the tip of the iceberg and for now, let's say the scales don't change direction. Brothers and Sisters, stay tuned...we all hope for an amicable and beneficial solution for everyone. I am also very proud to be friends with @MedicSBK and hope you all take a moment to read his blog Stay safe out there!
Mike O'Reilley Mike O'Reilley Saturday, June 14, 2014 8:33:49 AM If you need any help doing soap box talks.... give me a call. It is a sad fact unfortunately that the national unions and fire chiefs across the country have been pushing more and more to consolidate what in my opinion or two career tracks. The amount of knowledge and responsibility each position requires has grown exponentially each year. There have been successful integrations - don't get me wrong - but in time I fear it will be more and more evident that doing so has subtracted from one or the other - and both will suffer for it. We see more an more ridiculous decisions being made based on the bottom line of money and not the bottom line of service. I am very sorry that you and your partner have to endure this. How about this... we give the driving and maintence of ambulances to the trucking industry - and we force the hospitals and health care industry to fill the jump seat with medical expertise. Ambulances should not be the cash cow for FDs and nor should the personnel be abused to facilitate the billing.
Steve Price Lpn Steve Price Lpn Saturday, June 14, 2014 8:35:56 AM I'd be suing for the simple fact that I was not given the chance to keep my job
Steve Price Lpn Steve Price Lpn Saturday, June 14, 2014 8:38:01 AM I belong to a combination department and are an ALS first response agency so it can be done
Paul Fenn Paul Fenn Saturday, June 14, 2014 8:52:57 AM Thank you for your kind words, Mr. O'Reilley. If you are the same gentleman that I'm thinking of, I have had the pleasure to read several of your publications. I must say that the support a man of your stature and reputation goes far beyond simple words. I can only imagine how amazing the people must be that have been fortunate enough to have experienced your mentoring both as coworkers and as students. You are the real life Johnny Gage.
Sean P Sommers Sean P Sommers Saturday, June 14, 2014 9:02:32 AM Why is everyone insistent that fire and EMS merge? Why not fire and PD? Fire and water department? PD and EMS? The jobs require different skills and knowledge, and I firmly believe one cannot serve two masters. Do you really want a FF who doesn't want to fight fires? Do you really want a Medic who doesn't want to treat patients?
Rick Hughett Rick Hughett Saturday, June 14, 2014 9:09:35 AM Sounds like the man my department hired to merge the services. Ultimately it was merged and ultimately it was done so poorly and discriminated so badly against the Paramedic that the county lost over 200 paramedics. They just resigned over the period of a few years if they had less than 10 years in. The department ultimately contracted it out to private carriers. I have no idea how that it working out but I'm positive it was better than the last attempt at fire based. People hated it on both sides of the isle. When you have a forward thinking chief it can work but they MUST be out of the box thinkers with priority on serving the public first, employees a close second and himself dead last. Our chief was exactly backwards. When you have an idiot at the helm, well, not so good. Oh and by the way, the entire departments moral was so low and job performances so bad in all areas, the chief lost his job as a result in fairly short order.
Melanee Carmella Packard Melanee Carmella Packard Saturday, June 14, 2014 9:23:08 AM I HATE that!!!
Joe Kyser Joe Kyser Saturday, June 14, 2014 9:54:26 AM Not like the chief can't put them on an ambulance and allow them to finish out their careers, we did......
Char Lingle Char Lingle Saturday, June 14, 2014 10:02:19 AM HELLO LAWSUIT!!!! only the FEMALES are losing there jobs..I'M for the female paramedics they were never informed that to keep there job they needed to become firefighters... how many of them have families?? what are they suppose to tell there children/husbands?? i hope they SUE the pants off of the town..the chief is thinking with the wrong end of his head.
Paul Fenn Paul Fenn Saturday, June 14, 2014 10:34:25 AM Melanee Carmella Packard Chrome with pop-up blockers!! :)
Marilyn Rivera Marilyn Rivera Saturday, June 14, 2014 12:42:28 PM Could it be they were woman and that's why this happen? Their was only one male laid off. Just doesn't seem quite right.
Paul Drotar Paul Drotar Saturday, June 14, 2014 2:00:57 PM Well, this certainly has a nasty odor to it. The chief states that the four did not wish to become firefighters. In the next paragraph, he affirms that he never gave them the option. WTF, over? Is this a budgetary play to get more firefighters without actually having to go and hire more? Is it a power grab to get all paramedics answering directly to the chief (as they will all be firefighters now)? In all, it seems quite contradictory. According to the article quoted, this action is based on an eight year old study. Nothing like timely implimentation of a recommendation, eh?
Jamie Bingham Jamie Bingham Saturday, June 14, 2014 2:04:55 PM Alot of comments about fire based EMS and the underlying concepts and feelings may not be that far off but there are reasons that I have found through the years that I actually am all for fire based EMS systems on a personal medic level and that is: 1. Fire departments and their fire based EMS systems have NO turnover. Let's ask ourselves why? Private and many municipal services have incredible turnover and have trouble filling shifts historically. The biggest factor is the terrible pay for private EMS professionals and no real retirement to speak of (but those owners and bosses know no one with ambition is actually staying forever to retirement even if they love the job itself), factor 2 is the way private medics are treated by their own bosses - so often not as a professional who works hard, but far too often just warm bodies who as an example are viewed as just someone who we have to hurry and get their unit out of the ER so we can run that grunt and butter up the profit margin and we have to get "shifts filled". Private medics are also seemingly always one misstep, one minor accident away from being fired, because you don't cost a service money, and since you're not really viewed as a professional, like civil employees are, you can be easily replaced. And sadly many with real ambition and leadership qualities can't stick around at low pay and taking constant low respect from the ER's (because you're not firefighters and the nurses and docs know you get paid sh%# and that , sorry to say, IS reflected professionally in the respect realm), low respect from your own bosses, and even the public knows your not "them".....the fire department, so they move on and what's left over often move up the chain and they just, I have found sometimes, not leadership nor are they often even endowed with a personality conducive to leading others. But they're there and someone has to do it. Of course, some good people tough it out, maybe their wives or husbands are the real breadwinners and they can just work, maybe, but there also also great medics who are not going to be firefighter material, but often they will have to settle for what they can get as outlined above in the private EMS business Thanks to Jack Stout, the public gets to see thousands of private medics every day across the country sitting in some cramped ambulance, sweating like hell, their feet up in the dash, sitting on some street corner on "post" because the misconception that system status "saves money" (but does it really when we count unit breakdowns, poor morale and constant turnover, and the absolute increase in injuries in that system?) so how in the hell is this perceived as "professional" while that same public KNOWS the good looking professional fire department is sitting in their air conditioned station watching movies (when their duties are done of course) and eating a fine cooked meal and coming up on their 4 days off in a row, while just to make ends meet the private medic nearly has to throw their life away "picking up shifts" on every day off. But it's been that way since the 70's and we always talk about change, but change means, a new intubation method, "expanded scope" medics, etc, but never ever ever on the private side includes better working conditions or better pay. It's almost as if the private medics who aren't moving on to better jobs are consigned to their fate. And no, I am not nor ever have been a fire-based paramedic.
Michael A. Smith Michael A. Smith Saturday, June 14, 2014 2:15:44 PM Charice Conroy I wasnt attacking you, sorry. I am merely saying, the crafts are meant to be seperate. Fire Departments took in EMS back in the day to "justify" manpower. EMS and Fire together, great. Crossed trained people, in my opinion works only when there are adequate people, training and support. For most departments, they work on shoe string budgets and want everyone to do everything. Engine Co operations are different then Truck Co operations. yet, in some departments, jacks of all trades and no one does any of them well. Mediocre at best, most of the time. When larger metro areas realize they could do more county or regional based EMS, cutting cost, then the fire departments can go back to manning companies correctly, instead of half assed 3 man rigs, if they are lucky. When I go down, I dont want the EMT or Medic who "had" to become one for the job. I want the guy that likes his job and tries to better his knowledge and craft. Now that Ive said that, EMS systems also need to go back to more, more and more training. Which they dont. You get bullsheit CE and never really open your training abilities up. I know that if all comes down to $.. The fact of the matter is, if municipalities could figure out a way for a fire truck or ambulance to conduct traffic stops and write tickets, or visa versa, they would!
Paul Fenn Paul Fenn Saturday, June 14, 2014 3:22:36 PM You couldn't be more correct, sir!
Paul Fenn Paul Fenn Saturday, June 14, 2014 3:24:46 PM Matthew Whitt Absolutely correct! Hey Matt, do you work in AZ? Opps, disregard. I see it's TX. Do your airships in TX have guns mounted on them? LOL j/k
Matthew Whitt Matthew Whitt Saturday, June 14, 2014 3:31:41 PM Paul Fenn Lol!
Paul Fenn Paul Fenn Saturday, June 14, 2014 3:37:22 PM Matthew Whitt April worked @ AirEvac for years out in AZ and she loved it. She came back to New England to take care of family a few years back but has nothing but great things to say about flight. I've always admired you guys. Maybe that's why her and I have been together all of these years. Plus, those jumpsuits are bad*ss! Haha
Lisamarie Read Lisamarie Read Saturday, June 14, 2014 7:32:28 PM That's F up!!! Town should pay since they volunteer to save save around there!!! Wrongful termination is the case here. Dude lied n they never were given a real chance to better them selfs as FFs as now needed.
Peter Brandão Jr. Peter Brandão Jr. Sunday, June 15, 2014 2:25:50 PM Brian Fendley, you seem to miss understand the statement "ALL FULLTIME FEMALES" is not in relation to the group being all females, it is that all of the full time females IN THE DEPT. were let go. and then you point out that a person referred to as "the former union president." is in fact "a past union president not the current one." ya think? I guess maybe your not familiar with the term "former." but nice job TRYING to be part of the conversation.
Brian Fendley Brian Fendley Sunday, June 15, 2014 5:10:22 PM Think what you want and assume what you want but I understand this crap all to well.
Peter Brandão Jr. Peter Brandão Jr. Sunday, June 15, 2014 5:28:49 PM Brian Fendley I just document observations, and my observation here is that you have no But I will think... "what I want". Thank you for your permission.
Melinda Teaster Williams Melinda Teaster Williams Monday, June 16, 2014 5:41:00 AM This is a shame but Females are treated differently in this field and maybe "THE GOOD OLD BOYS" club needs a reality check. I hope all 4 sue.
Jesse Bell Jesse Bell Monday, June 16, 2014 9:38:21 AM There was also a male losing his job.
James Vogt James Vogt Monday, June 16, 2014 10:07:46 AM If medics are required to be firefighters, should not the firefighters then be required to be medics?
Johnathan MacIntyre Johnathan MacIntyre Monday, June 16, 2014 12:04:35 PM More than half of those overweight beuraucratic bastards couldn't fight a fire anymore. There should be mandatory fitness and skills training for all employees of the fire department. Then we will see who would lose their precious and cushy desk jobs.
Alyssa Delude Alyssa Delude Monday, June 16, 2014 7:01:14 PM I am a resident of Belchertown. I do not approve of Bock's actions regarding laying off Fernandes and laying off the former union president. I don't want my tax dollars going towards a lawsuit. I want it going towards people who can protect my friends, family, and neighbours (regardless of gender, as Jason pointed out~)
Jim Alsobrook Jim Alsobrook Monday, June 16, 2014 11:40:50 PM Brian Fendley yes but the 3 females were all!! of the full time females in the department. yes I sense a major sex discrimination suit forthcoming shortly.
Jim Alsobrook Jim Alsobrook Monday, June 16, 2014 11:42:24 PM Jeannie Hoard Ammermann - its empire building mostly and a way to generate enough call volume to justify the large budgets and manpower allotments. Has nothing to do with actual need or efficiency,
Stephen Smoot Stephen Smoot Tuesday, June 17, 2014 4:25:32 AM The fire chief is sexist. He did that on purpose to lay off the women. He lied to them, and refused to let them attend the fire academy. They have a major law suit for discrimination. I hope they get millions. This is what happens when you have a moron running a fire dept.
Steve Smoot Steve Smoot Tuesday, June 17, 2014 5:14:36 AM lot of those 'good old boy' out there.
Steve Smoot Steve Smoot Tuesday, June 17, 2014 5:15:07 AM They actually have no business running anything.
Jim Alsobrook Jim Alsobrook Tuesday, June 17, 2014 12:21:24 PM Brian, they called them "stand alone" medics so I am thinking they were riding solo in non transport vehicles running back up to BLS transport units. In my area they were called QRV units able to respond in an area as back up or as initial response when the zone unit was out of zone and the responding unit was coming from further away.

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