Larsen’s fate to be decided Monday
Peabody EMS crew members made impassioned pleas Monday for reinstating fired Peabody paramedic Larry Larsen, and county commissioners agreed to rule on the matter next week.
Crew chief Tammy Whiteside, Brian Whiteside, and Lyndsay Hutchison met with commissioners to describe the impact Larsen has had and ask for him to be put back on the Peabody crew.
“There’s a petition going around Peabody to get Larry Larsen reinstated,” Tammy Whiteside said. “We’re looking right now around 100 altogether. I’ve received calls this morning from other people in the county who were afraid to come in because of retribution. It’s not just us and Peabody wanting it, there’s people all over the county.”
Hutchison said Larsen was “the sole reason I ever decided to join” Peabody EMS, and that Larsen has been a mentor for the crew.
“I’ll be honest, I’m scared to death on some of these calls that I go on,” she said. “If I’ve got questions, I’ll pick up the phone and call Larry. He’ll either come ride with me or tell me, ‘Calm down, you’ve got this.’ He’s been a mentor to all of us.”
Brian Whiteside talked about Larsen’s value to the county as a trainer, and Tammy Whiteside listed about a dozen emergency medical topics that she said Larsen was certified to train on.
Tammy Whiteside also expressed frustration over the temporary removal of Peabody’s ambulance the day Larsen was fired. EMS director Brandy McCarty had the ambulance taken to Marion for inventory, but a note posted on the ambulance garage door said the ambulance would no longer be housed in Peabody. McCarty said later that it had been a poor choice of words, and that there was never any intention to remove the vehicle permanently.
Whiteside asked for a speedy resolution to the issue of Larsen’s reinstatement.
“I know you want to put it off a week, but our schedule right now is just crazy,” she said. “We need the body, we need the person. We just want our crew back. We’re like a family down there.”
Commissioners declined to make a decision at that time, but agreed to put it on Monday’s agenda. The discussion is scheduled for 10:40 a.m., and time will be allotted for public comment.
Rice County EMS director Terry David was hired to evaluate EMS and recommend improvements, which could include changing the county’s model of service to one that includes at least some full-time EMS responders.
David said he knew of several counties, including his own, that have fewer annual runs than Marion County but have nine to 13 full-time EMS responders.
David’s consulting fee is $50 an hour, and commissioners approved spending up to $2,500 for the appraisal.
McCarty’s resignation was effective Monday, but per a Nov. 9 agreement she was to have continued indefinitely on half-time status. Commissioners modified that agreement Monday, asking McCarty to be available “as needed” for administrative duties through Monday.