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LoBuglio defends EMS survey

King George Supervisor John LoBuglio defended his survey that was emailed anonymously last month to at least 40 former EMS volunteers, targeting Fire and Rescue Chief David Moody.

At the June 5 meeting, LoBuglio appeared determined to go forward with obtaining and reviewing results from the survey despite public criticism from King George Fire & Rescue leadership. He also said whether he brings the results to the board depends on the responses to the survey.  

(See related article in this issue outlining EMS volunteer and Board member comments. Also, view the June 5 meeting at www.journalpress.com (click on “Links”), along the complete text of the controversial survey.)

LoBuglio’s comments had a large audience containing at least 20 uniformed EMS members and another 10 plus supporters. 

But first he had to listen to criticism during public comment time that came from several members of the volunteer group, including Chief Ted Lovell and President Valerie Myers, and other volunteers, Mark Crnarich and Floyd Allen, with written comments from Les Greeley. Former Dahlgren supervisor James Mullen also commented, giving support for Moody. Supervisor Joe Grzeika provided his own prepared remarks on the topic during board comments and prior to LoBuglio’s turn. Dale Sisson commented last, since he presided. 

In regard to LoBuglio’s survey, Grzeika said, in part, “It fails in every respect to be a valid survey instrument and has no validity in my mind.” He also called it “insulting and demeaning.”

Supervisor Ruby Brabo was the lone supervisor at the meeting who did not address the topic at all. Her silence on the issue was conspicuous, particularly since she had helped fuel the EMS staffing issues at a town meeting she held on March 29. At that forum, she criticized the county for not staffing the Fairview Beach substation, putting questions to Moody and Lovell, whom she had invited to attend.

Dale Sisson had brief comments on the topic following LoBuglio’s say, going last, since he presided at the meeting in the absence of Chairman Cedell Brooks, who was said to be ailing.  

(See related article in this issue for quotes from those commenting mentioned above.) 

 

LOBUGLIO WANTS TO REVISIT TOUGH CHAPTER

At the Board of Supervisors meeting on June 5, LoBuglio said of the survey, “That did not go out from the board and that. I take full responsibility for putting my name on it so that others don’t have the finger pointed at them. Somebody had to go out and finally ask some questions and that. Up to now, other members on the board have been saying, ‘it’s done, it’s closed,’ and no one wants to talk about it, okay.”

In fact, it was a tough transition chapter for the county and the emergency volunteer organizations. That took place largely in the decade prior to LoBuglio taking office in January 2010. His desire to dig it up again at the apparent behest of former volunteers holding grudges is not sitting well with current volunteers or county officials.

 

HISTORY OF KGEMS

According to a history provided online at the official website for King George Fire & Rescue, www.kinggeorgefirerescue.com/content/history, in the early 1970’s the King George Volunteer Fire Department (KGVFD) provided a position for one career firefighter to supplement volunteer coverage during daytime hours. That position was responsible for getting the appropriate fire apparatus to incidents and taking care of day-today tasks. 

In 1999, the county created the Department of Emergency Services and brought the four paramedics and one firefighter employed by the two volunteer organizations into the new department.  The five positions were intended to supplement the volunteer rescue squad and fire department during daytime hours as both Firefighters and EMS providers.  As the needs of the county continued to grow, the department grew and in 2003 career personnel began supplementing the volunteer organizations on a 24-hour daily basis.

In 2005, Dahlgren Rescue Squad (DRS) and King George Fire and Rescue merged. This merger was a hard action to accept for many volunteers because of the personal feelings that go along with being a volunteer and having to become part of something new.

In September 2008, the King George Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance establishing the King George Department of Fire Rescue & Emergency Services. This department united the career and volunteer organizations into one operational entity with one clearly defined mission, line of authority and chain of command under Moody.  As stated on the website, “Just as there was difficulty accepting the merger between DRS and KGFR, this transition was not without its own challenges.”

 

LoBuglio GIVES RATIONALE

LoBuglio said he sent the survey to see if former volunteers might come back, saying he represents the Fairview Beach area where Station 3 is located. 

That building is not staffed by paid personnel, but has several fire and rescue vehicles on-site, at the ready for use, and regularly maintained and tested. Company 1 on Route 3 is staffed 24 hours and Company 2 on Dahlgren Road is staffed during some daytime hours. 

According to the online history cited above, that substation was established by volunteers in a boat shed they purchased in 1966. In 1972, the group asked for release from King George Volunteer Fire Department (KGVFD) to start its own department, Fairview Beach Volunteer Fire Department. It provided fire service until it finally merged with KGVFD in 2000, which then became known as King George Fire & Rescue Incorporated.

LoBuglio said he did the survey without concurrence from board members, adding he will bring it to the board, “If there was a chance of trying to get a number of those people back into service to come back.” He added, “By doing this on my own, it doesn’t involve the rest of the board, unless there was enough data to collect to bring to the board.” He said that so far, he has “no idea” about the response rate. 

LoBuglio’s name was not on the survey. The only name on it was that of the former sheriff, Clarence “Moose” Dobson. LoBuglio had asked Dobson to have responses sent to his mailing address. LoBuglio said last week he had not yet gotten to the survey results, which were requested to be returned in by respondents in 10 days. That would put the preferred deadline at the end of May. 

LoBuglio also questioned the EMS ordinance, saying, “I do question the ordinance where it calls out that the paid professionals have one avenue for processing grievances and the volunteers don’t. That is an issue that should be brought up later, but I think there should be the same.”

He added, “And I know everyone’s got a different opinion out there and that. But up to now, there’s just been a lot of hearsay and people talking. It really needed to be brought out for once and for all, and let’s get it over with. Especially this summer, with the ISO classifications coming up and that. If we didn’t, people would point fingers. Let’s get that over and out in the open once and for all, you know, get everything spoken about and that.”

(As noted, the June 5 meeting recording is posted on our website, along with the survey, email responses from Supervisor John LoBuglio on the topic, and previous articles on this topic, www.journalpress.com.

 

Phyllis Cook 

 

 

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