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Fire/rescue group should share more information on this issue

August 20, 2004

When Washington County County Emergency Services Director Joe Kroboth proposed hiring a new county employee to supervise ambulance companies, we asked for some more justification.

Now, he's provided some and the ball is in the Washington County Fire and Rescue Association's court.

Earlier this month, Kroboth proposed the paid position, saying that because the association had suspended one if its employees for a month, problems ensued.

Among other things, medics who responded to the scene of some fatal accidents involving children didn't get referred to counseling, as they should have been, he said.

At he time, we questioned whether this was sufficient justification for adding a new post for $42,108, plus benefits.

This week, Kroboth said that because of the association employee's suspension, the county missed a state deadline for submitting a training plan. As a result, he said, the county won't be able to offer advanced training courses this year.

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A state officials said the situation isn't quite that serious, and could be corrected in a few months' time. But the missed deadline raises questions about how the association operates.

If the association suspended its employee, surely its officials knew that there were duties that others would have to pick up. That's true in any business or organization, whether the employee absence is planned, as in a vacation, or unplanned, as in the case of emergency surgery, for example.

And, if the association didn't have someone on hand who could fill it, it could have called for help, either from Kroboth's office or from another agency.

The bottom line is that important business didn't get done, for reasons that aren't entirely clear. When we wrote about this on Aug. 12, we said that Kroboth had to justify the reasons for the change. At this point, however, the fire/rescue association needs to make a good argument why that change shouldn't happen.

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