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Letter: History lesson in medical response

To the editor:

After hearing comments published by my opponents in last week’s paper, I feel the need to respond. In the 40 years that I have been a member, we have never had 50 percent of our membership EMT trained; 30 percent at best. As of today, we currently have 21 percent, not 15 percent, of membership trained.

If Mr. Feldhusen and Mr. Johnson are inferring that we should be responding to all medical call, I feel a history lesson is needed. Thirty-five years ago a few members approached Chief Kolapakka and suggested we form a rescue squad in order to improve our medical training/knowledge. After doing some research, it was determined that in order for this to work, all members would have to become EMTs. Seventy-five percent of the members stated that they would quit if forced to do medical calls.

In the early part of Chief Hewitt’s tenure, he implemented a policy requiring the department to respond to all medical calls. It took 6 to 8 months to see the negative impact of this decision. First, members were burning out from call volume and refused to respond to any medical calls. Secondly, upset taxpayers complained of duplicate services. Lastly, Souhegan Valley Ambulance Service became so upset they complained to the Selectmen that the fire department was trying to put them out of business. SVAS does an excellent job supplying the town with medical assistance, with occasional help from the fire department when requested.

Medical training has been offered to the department members, who have declined the opportunity. If I mandate medical response, the department will lose several dedicated members. I will not allow this to happen. If it is not broken, no need to fix it.

David Leel

New Ipswich Fire Chief

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