Chief Tracey's views, opinions, and statements on this topic are his own, and at no point represent those of Smithsburg EMS or its membership. While Tracey made a significant contribution to the community through his years of volunteer service and leadership, none of us believe that his comments were appropriate. In fact, we find it saddening ourselves that the family of Christina Hess and Hunter Daniel Hess Gibson can find no peace and move on due to the unfortunate connection to our department in relation to the comments of our previous chief.
We would like to address several items reported as fact in the article, including issues in regard to an interdepartmental quarrel, extended response times and location of the scene. As quoted in The Herald-Mail from the president of Smithsburg Volunteer Fire Company, " a quarrel over a rescue truck was resolved two years ago ," we believe this matter is wholly unrelated.
It is our belief that a dispute existed between Tracey and unidentified members of the fire company that caused him to respond in the manner he chose. It is with an essence of mistrust that Tracey responds with "you know they're out to screw me and sometimes it comes back around."
To address the extended response time concern, one must view this situation with a bit of humanity in mind. First, consider that in a volunteer system and our departments are staffed with, of course, volunteers. Even so, a seizure is a fairly common medical condition that usually results in patients either refusing emergency care, or transporting privately.
In addition, when Gibson advised during his first 911 call that the patient was not breathing, no communication was forwarded to the ambulance company that the call had been upgraded to a "code blue" cardiac arrest, as is standard procedure. This information is vital in alerting those responding that this is no longer a routine call and had been upgraded to our highest response priority.
When reviewing the response times from our station to the scene of the incident, any reasonable person would conclude that 2:16 is not appropriate for the required distance. However, in reviewing the physical location, the home pictured in the paper is at 2 Maple Ave., an entirely different building. The only identifiable number on the building at the correct location is "1". 1 Maple Ave. should be on the opposite side of the street, causing confusion all its own.
All of these circumstances should raise the importance of proper identification to every household. Had the residence been clearly and properly identified, our response from the station would have been significantly reduced.
It's clear that numerous circumstances combined to create a less- than-ideal setting in which to provide service on the morning of March 5. From the moment the alarm sounded in our station at 7:25 through the months following, Smithsburg EMS has responded to an estimated 350 calls, not one of which has generated near as much controversy as this one unfortunate event.
Day and night, regardless of previous commitments, our members sacrifice their families and their personal lives to respond to what- ever emergency our citizens may find themselves part of, often times placing themselves in harm's way. Our level of care is perhaps most evident when talking to our patients.
We challenge The Herald-Mail to contact those who utilize our service and find the true representation of our staff. It is our sincerest hope that every individual who calls for our help can look past the comments of one man, and believe whole heartedly that we will be there to serve, no matter what.
In closing, we offer our sincere condolences to the families of Christina Hess and Hunter Daniel Hess Gibson. Through this publication, it is our intention to put this regrettable event to rest, and allow the families their opportunity for peace and closure.
Submitted by the active membership of Smithsburg Emergency Medical Services.
To the editor: