Verbatim, unabridged transcription of a recording of Marion County Commissioners Randy Dallke, Dan Holub, and Lori Lalouette and EMS director Brandy McCarty discussing in an open meeting Nov. 16 the possible reinstatement of paramedic Larry Larsen to Peabody EMS:
Dallke: I am not Randy Dallke, county commissioner, I’m Randy Dallke, citizen from Peabody and concerned about the Peabody ambulance crew. I’m going to give you papers here, as I talk later I’ll tell you the numbers of meetings I’ve had and discussions that I’ve had with Mr. Larry Larsen and his wife.
I was first contacted by his wife to see if there was any possible way of, of reinstatement for Larry, and I said there has to be some things accomplished.
We sat and had a meeting for a couple of hours, discussed a lot of things. After that meeting, I had a list, I’ve got it over there in my bag, I had a list of questions that I asked to her, and then to, when we had a meeting later, about three days later, with Larry and her.
Bottom line, I asked what can you, why do you want to come back? He read everything that he has here, he didn’t read it, he just told me verbally, and I said I need it in writing, I need it written down. So that’s when I sent him back home, he brought this back, and we talked about another hour or two.
With this being said, we send people to prison, they get out, they come back. We, uh, we do a lot of things, Thank God there are people on that side of the table that makes a decision, sticks with it, does their job, goes on. We need those type of people, too.
But, the other side of this story is there’s a person out here that had none of his release, that I know of, I don’t think the county or anything said there were any medical problems with Larry. There’s a lot of people in this county that looks to Larry as their trainer and stuff like that, even though there might have been some problems back there that wasn’t covered, who knows? I can’t tell you. I do know Larry’s talked about skills, I know Karen teaches a lot of skills in classes.
With that all being said, I know that Larry has been hurt. I’ve seen it in his eyes, I’ve talked to him. We’ve had some real, real good discussion, but I said I need this right here, your commitment to come back to Marion County and work for Marion County ambulance.
I’ve worked with Larry for many years, wrecks, all kinds of things, police work. I know his attitude, I know his skills, I know everything about the gentleman up until five years ago when I got off the fire department.
I guess right now, each of you commissioners can go back to your respective areas and not hear the kinds of things you’re probably hearing that I’ hear in my area. I’ve talked to a lot of people, and I haven’t found one that didn’t want Larry back on the service if everything can be corrected. With that being said, that’s a pretty big statement, and I’ve even asked lots of people.
Like I said, it’s not easy for me to sit here, and if everybody thinks I’m doing it just to, for the other side, I’m not. Peabody service, No. 1, Marion County service, No. 2, is losing a lot of experience and attitude and things of the kind of care that we just talked about, the goals of patient care, that Larry provided when he’s in the ambulance. I know him when he’s in the ambulance, and he means everything that he does.
I guess, that being said, my last thing is I’m asking the commissioners to reinstate Larry. There’s a list of things here. Probationary period is possible, no leadership as far as crew leader. I think he’s trying to just maintain himself down there and still work for the best for Peabody ambulance.
Last week, Tammy (Whiteside) was elected crew chief, and Tammy had a run of a heart patient in the city of Peabody. The heart rhythm was increasingly speeding up. She took care of it and was able to get by, but what if it’s the next step? I would sure hate seeing two people living in our city limits that cannot come out and help us when somebody is having a heart attack. That might be my wife. She’s had three or four different things over the last 10 years.
So, even though I think the board took care of corrective action and did what they had to do, I’d like for the board to look at this, work with people. I mentioned to Brandy, I mentioned to Gene, you know, when it’s a situation, that’s something we have to look at. If there’s any questions, if you want a week to think about it, I’m open for anything.
I know there are some things in this deal you can read here, what he’s talking to do, if there are some other things we need to talk about it.
Lalouette: I would certainly think about it with what we just talked about with trying to resituate our people, with like part-time or different work, where they are under the handbook and polices, and we could make sure police this stuff a lot better, do some sort of probationary period and improvement plan and make sure it’s being done and it’s complied with and that there’s consequences if it’s not.
Dallke: And I think what you’re talking about here is what he sort of said, a third-party presence. Maybe that needs to be in our handbook that there needs to be a third party present for any actions of things in reference to a problem or something like that.
Lalouette: That’s a good idea.
Holub: Not if you’re an adult, Randy. With a child, all right. We’re talking adults here. We’re talking not 20-year-old adults, we’re talking people who’ve lived life a long time, and it’s not unreasonable to expect a standard that they can behave themselves when they’re talking and don’t have to start screaming and cussing.
What concerns me here is he’s identified 10 problems he’s going to correct; two weeks ago he had no idea why he was fired.
McCarty: May I jump —
Holub: A great revelation somewhere. He knew these were problems, he didn’t do anything about them.
McCarty: May I jump in here for just a second?
Holub: No, not yet. Not yet.
I let this go on for a while because I didn’t want to lose a person of his skills. It is a huge issue to have somebody, a paramedic, when heart things come up.
When I start relenting, Tampa, Lincolnville, and every other town in the county would like to have that same option. I mean, if they’re going to live without it(unintelligible) because other people are living without this whole thing.
I’m sorry, this really upsets me, but I come from a world, and I’m talking the Navy, we went to jail and prison for stuff that’s a party joke in the civilian world. We had a harsh set of standards and people met them, they behaved, and things worked well. And I know my military B’s, I hear this stuff all the time, it worked. Frankly, you civilians just confuse the hell out of me. You’ve got black and white, you paint it gray. We had gray we painted it black and white.
This is a classic example where somebody that was clueless why he was let go now identifies 10 items and says he wants to correct it like this. It totally befuddles me.
The words again ‘Great concern he has for the community of Peabody and surrounding area of Marion County.’ That would be a valid statement if the 10 items on there didn’t happen. He had great concern, but he was going to do it his way.
Having said that, I would like to think about it. I would in fact consider if we have a heart issue, as a third party to an ambulance crew, to deal with a heart issue.
And I’m not sure I like that, but if you’ve got somebody, a paramedic, and I don’t even know if its legal, whatever. But I would feel stupid if I said there’s no way, with my luck somebody’s going to have a heart issue, Larry’s right there, and because of this we’re not gonna, no I’ve got a problem. Something’s got to be worked out there, I will be reasonable on that.
Lalouette: Can we tell when they get calls —
McCarty: No. And how can Larry Larsen be everywhere in the county? Marion, Hillsboro, with the exception of JoAnn (Knak) that does very few calls, Tampa, we all run without a paramedic, we all handle heart issues. Larry cannot, even if he is as good as what you lead him on to be, he cannot be safely everywhere in the county 24-7. I’m thankful you’ve had him as an EMT, paramedic, whatever, but there are other people in the county who are just as good that can provide care. Just as good. Maybe not the same meds.
Holub: And that may be, that’s what I’m saying, that could become crucial, and I’ve got a real problem with that. Again, some bureaucrat can draw a line ‘no.’ Well, maybe. I don’t want to make a decision here that turns out you can’t defend afterward. And that’s what I’m saying, that’s where my thinking is. And I’m not sure yet.
McCarty: I would like to take a few moments and as director of Marion County EMS at this point give my suggestion on what you have just said, Randy.
You started out with saying that people go to prison and come back and are rehabilitated and are able to function in society normally, if that’s what I understand.
Dallke: Right, right.
McCarty: At that point we still don’t hire people that were in prison for positions of medical and other important situations. They may be able to resume back into society as working at McDonalds or working at Wal-Mart, however we have to consider the situation and the position that he is going to be holding if he is to be brought back.
You had said that as training he does good, but last week I visited with one of the AEMTs that’s on his team, and if he was training her, then how come that person didn’t even know the combination to the med box that’s able to get into it? So if you’re training along with me, you should have trained me to use those meds that are in my scope of practice just as well. That person has been on that ambulance crew for a long time and she didn’t even know the combination to get in that to use it.
You’re talking about losing a lot, but Larry Larsen himself has said that he’s moving in a couple months. So what are we going to do when he moves, is everybody just going to drop and say we can’t function any more in Marion County when we have capable individuals already here? What happens if he was hit by a bus, God forbid that. But if we don’t have him, life must go on, and we have capable people and if not, we grow those capable people, OK, we provide education for them.
Back on service, let’s talk about that. Does the county know that Peabody was on first response or out of service on an average of 23 times in the last three months? And they complain about not having a paramedic when he’s in Hillsboro when he should have been in Peabody saving lives? No. When he has to drive over the speed limit to get to Hillsboro to save somebody’s life? No, that’s endangerment of him, which I will not have, and endangerment to my patient.
Do we talk about when he has a technician on his crew that he gave permission to drive without a driver’s license, or suspended? No.
These are the reasons why I suggest that he not be brought back, is because he does not follow the county handbook. You can bring up an Article 1817 of the reasons why we should let somebody go in Marion County, and he beats more than he doesn’t.
I can list off as being a director more things that he’s violated, from sexual harassment, from grabbing somebody’s butt, that is not appropriate for Marion county EMS.
Dallke: Wait, wait, wait a minute —
Holub: Whoa, whoa, this is starting to get personal here now, Randy.
Dallke: Yeah, this is —
Holub: I’d appreciate it, newspaper, exercise some judgment and common sense and didn’t print that.
McCarty: But I’m saying that this irritates me that you guys are going to allow this when the county should know the reasons why I wouldn’t accept him back.
Lalouette: I’m not saying 100 percent. I was not here that day, I’ve never met him. All I know is that people have said and I know we have had an issue with things being followed. That’s why I said if there was a way we could all really police it, because that’s been a problem, perhaps it could be perhaps looked at. Because if it’s not being followed then we have reason to not —
McCarty: In 2007 he was given the option to resign or be fired. He did the same type of things that are in the county handbook, and he continued to do it, so did we police that? No.
Lalouette: Well, and it’s hard because of the situation we’re in. I was saying I mean sometimes, and again I don’t know Larry, I just know people in general, sometimes it takes something drastic for them to understand they need to make a change.
McCarty: You bet.
Lalouette: So that’s where If it could be either done, if he could change some procedures or the way he interacted and it would work, that’s a possibility. As far as —
McCarty: But habits are hard to break.
Lalouette: Yes, and I don’t know, I don’t know everything, like I said, I don’t know him. Could it be done? I don’t know, I’m just saying perhaps that might be something I could look at if there is a way to make —
McCarty: I just think we have more to risk if he is back from bullying to reports that I’ve had, than if we continue to leave him gone, especially if he’s going to be moving in two months. We’re going to fight a battle and we’re not going to be ahead and in two months he leaves?
McCarty: Yes, he’s told multiple people that.
Holub: I think we’ve gone far enough. We need to take a week, and everybody calm down, but I want to revisit this. And Randy, I meant what I said about this horse only issue. I consider this a county problem and not a Peabody problem. People up north want to live just as much as people in Peabody.
I don’t know how we’re going to fix it, but there’s got to be some way to do this. There has got to.
McCarty: You know, you said another thing, that you haven’t talked to anybody that would not have him back on the ambulance? Have you talked to Hillsboro people, have you talked to Marion people, because I can gather up several memos —
Holub: Wait, no, we terminated this conversation, we’re not going to hear anymore. We need to stop —
McCarty: I just am frustrated —
Holub: I understand that, that’s what I’m saying. I’m frustrated, I’m sure Randy’s frustrated, you, everybody’s frustrated,. We just need to chill out.
Dallke: I guess —
Holub: All we’re doing is making headlines now.
Dallke: I guess, Dan, I was frustrated, you know, with everything. Like I said to start with I was glad there were three people on that side of the table to make the decision(unintelligible).
But as you know, last week Brandy’s quitting, she’s resigning. We’ve got to make some decisions for next week. The clock’s ticking, and here we are arguing about this, and it’s just a simple decision. The man says he’ll do something, probationary period, you know that’s probably a must. You know, there’s other people in this county we give probationary periods to.
Lalouette: And that’s the point of the probation, is if it’s not done, he can’t continue.
Dallke: Thank you all, I appreciate it, and I’m going to sit back over there as Marion County District 3 commissioner now.