Trumbull EMS Commission calls out ‘ludicrous’ Herbst claim
Another town commission has pushed back against a public safety claim by Republican first selectman candidate Michael Herbst.
Trumbull EMS commissioners on Monday unanimously denounced Herbst’s Aug. 19 campaign statement blaming First Selectman Vicki Tesoro for inadequately funding the town’s Police Department.
Herbst, in his campaign statement, had questioned Tesoro’s engagement with the rank-and-file emergency responders, and blamed poor morale and underfunding for an uptick in some crimes, including domestic violence, sexual assault, and drug possession.
In August, the Police Commission’s chairman and vice chairman had responded, labeling the claims “factually inaccurate and totally irresponsible” and wrote that “Politics has no place in the public safety arena and Mr. Herbst should know better.”
But it was the final paragraph in Herbst’s statement that incensed the EMS Commission. Herbst wrote, “for the last two years, our Emergency Medical Services have been saddled with constant problems and a lack of adequate manpower to cover emergency calls, with a shortage of paramedics. Our police officers, who are medical first responders, have been stretched to the max.”
Herbst went on to claim that weak leadership invites mayhem and that “I will have the back of all of our emergency first responders — police, fire, and EMS — should I be elected.”
After mulling over Herbst’s comments for a month, the EMS Commission responded Monday. The panel, consiting of Chairman Diane Mayo, Vice Chairman Joel Hirshfield, Philip E. Lukianuk, Matthew Wheeler, Shea C. Gregg, Thomas Kiely, Jr. and Jeffrey Pranger, called Herbst’s claims ludicrous, among other things.
“We are astounded as to where he would have gotten these ludicrous accusations which he is only using for his political gain,” the commissioners wrote. “Although Mr. Herbst has stated he has the back of all our emergency first responders, we find that hard to believe when he espouses these inaccurate, demeaning and misleading statements.”
The commission continued, “We have never, and never will lack adequate manpower to cover emergency calls and have our extremely competent and experienced paramedics on duty for all given shifts.”
The members went on to slam a more recent Herbst campaign mailer that called a newly created supervisor position redundant.
“This hiring actually saved money and increased our highly trained paramedic response to the community,” the commissioners wrote. “With the hiring of our Paramedic Field Supervisor, Christopher Simoni, and with our incredible Chief, Leigh Goodman, we often have two extra paramedics available to serve our community, which we’ve never had before. Chief Goodman has in fact covered several calls this month while all three on-duty crews were busy providing lifesaving treatment to Trumbull residents on other calls.”
The commissioners concluded by stating that Tesoro had been supportive and receptive to information from the commission and EMS staff, and declaring that “It is always difficult to work with political mindsets that place the safety of our community second and utilize unsubstantiated statistics for their own purposes. We respectfully request that our esteemed service, and the services we work clos.”ely with, be left out of the political realm.”
Herbst in reply said that he respected the work that the EMS performed, and the service’s dedicated corps of volunteers, and pointed to the presence of EMS volunteer Dick Mayo on his political ticket this November.
Herbst said the source of his comments regarding the EMS were town documents, including Board of Finance and EMS Commission meeting minutes. Specifically Herbst mentioned an October EMS Commission meeting where Tesoro had asked the panel for feedback on its direction, noting “paramedic staffing has been a problem in the recent past.”
A month later Deputy Police Chief Leonard Scinto directed police officers that they were not to drive ambulances on medical calls.
Herbst also cited a February 2019 audit presented to the Board of Finance that cited Trumbull’s third-party paramedic provider, Vintech, as having occassionally being unable to provide coverage for Trumbull. On those occasions, Vintech contracted with another company, AMR, for coverage.
““If the people of Trumbull want to confirm this information, they can go to the town website and read the same documents,” Herbst said.