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By LeAnn R. Ralph
BOYCEVILLE — Fifteen Emergency Medical Technicians have resigned from the Boyceville ambulance service because they disagree with the decision of the Boyceville Community Ambulance District Board to hire Wayne Dow as the director.
Interim ambulance service director Captain Andrew Kissh announced the resignations following a meeting of the Boyceville ambulance board on April 14.
Kissh also said his resignation would be effective as of 11:59 p.m. April 14.
In the absence of Gilbert Krueger, Boyceville village president and chair of the ambulance board, Peter Score, a representative for the Town of Sheridan, was nominated and approved by the board to chair the meeting.
The ambulance district board’s agenda contained an item for a closed session under Wisconsin state statutes Chapter 19.85(1)(c) to discuss employees and employment.
Score said he was not in favor of going into closed session.
The one issue at hand was the decision of the board on who to hire as the ambulance service director, and if the meeting were held in closed session, the board would have to decide who could stay for the closed session and who would have to leave, Score said.
The audience at the meeting, held in the training room at the Boyceville fire station, contained about 20 people.
Many of those attending the meeting were Boyceville EMTs, and the remaining audience members appeared to be residents of the community.
At a previous closed session of the ambulance district board, other people, unbeknownst to the board, had accessed the closed session through a laptop computer connection, Score said.
Keeping the agenda item in open session would allow audience members to express thoughts and opinions on who the board had selected as chief of the ambulance service, he said.
On a vote of five “no” to two “yes,” the board declined to go into closed session.
Voting “yes” on the motion to go into closed session were representatives from the Towns of Tiffany and Stanton.
Representatives voting “no” were from the Towns of Sherman, New Haven, Hay River, Sheridan and the Village of Boyceville.
Score then opened the meeting to public comment and limited the comments to three minutes for each speaker.
One woman in the audience, who was not sitting with the group of EMTs, said she believed Wayne Dow was the best choice for the job because the EMTs had become “too clique-y” and it would be better to have a director who was not from the area.
Dow grew up in Boyceville and is a retired paramedic who had worked for 24 years with Dubuque Fire and Rescue in Dubuque, Iowa. Dow served for 14 years as the EMS supervisor and the ambulance service director.
One EMT in the audience said the EMTs need to know “someone has their back,” and that the Boyceville EMTs have confidence in Captain Kissh and in Captain Shanna Knops.
Throughout the public comments, none of the speakers identified themselves.
One common sentiment among the EMTs who spoke was that the ambulance district board had not listened to them about their recommendation to hire a director and had not followed their wishes.
Another EMT said the Boyceville EMTs care about each other and that Boyceville was fortunate to have an ambulance service.
Several EMTs said the new director was “not qualified” and “did not know how to run the equipment.”
Other EMTs said they feared patients would be harmed with the new director in charge and it would be the EMTs’ licenses that would be in jeopardy.
The new ambulance service director has been offered the job, has accepted, and planned to start work the next day, Score said.
The decision to hire a director has been made, and the decision has not been changed, he said.
After the ambulance district meeting was adjourned, Kissh announced the resignations.
The ambulance district board is not trying to break up the Boyceville ambulance service, but rather, the people on the service who are resigning are trying to break up the service, said Marv Prestrud, representative on the board for the Town of New Haven.
Several EMTs in the audience disagreed and said they did not intend to break up the Boyceville ambulance service and again expressed the sentiment that the ambulance district board had not listened to them and had not followed their wishes.
“You do not have to leave,” said Bob Anderson, representative for the Town of Stanton.
One of the EMTs in the audience noted that many of the Boyceville EMTs serve as first responders and that it was “not fair to say they were abandoning their post.”
The Boyceville Community Ambulance District Board meets next on May 12 following the Boyceville Community Fire District Board meeting at 6:30 p.m. The ambulance board meeting will start no earlier than 7 p.m.
Prior to the adjournment of the meeting, Score had attempted to ask the board to schedule a reorganizational meeting, but no one was willing to make a motion, and several indicated the reorganization could wait until May 12.
Since Score was only approved as the temporary chair to run the April 14 meeting, he has no authority to call another meeting.
Gilbert Krueger lost the election for village president April 6 but technically remained village president and chair of the ambulance district board until newly elected village board members took their oath of office on April 20.