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Sentinel: VEMS Report Sparks Questions About Vehicle Crash

Sentinel has full copy of the report.

In a report obtained by the Valley Independent Sentinel, Oxford Ambulance Association Director Jerry Schwab is quoted as telling a local mechanic: “make sure that the vehicle (was) not visible in an effort to avoid involvement of the press,” the Sentinel reported on its website Thursday.

He was referencing a sport utility vehicle owned by Valley Emergency Medical Services that was damaged in an out-of-state accident; the SUV was driven by Schwab's mother, Madalene Taggart, a VEMS board member and the vice president of the , according to the report.

Taggart had permission to take the vehicle, but VEMS leaders say they did not know she would be taking it out of state and are now changing their vehicle usage policy.

Read more, including the full report, on the Valley Independent Sentinel's website here.

Janis Hardy January 06, 2012 at 05:23 PM
I read an article that said this vehicle was new and was not in service yet because the 2000 mile recommended breaking-in had not been completed. The accident was not Mrs. Taggart's fault, she was hit by someone else, and when involved in an accident which is another person's fault, that person's insurance pays for the damages. There should be no cost to VEMS insurance unless no accident report was filed. If this accident had happened on Rt 8 or in any of the valley towns serviced by VEMS none of us would have heard a thing about it. Yes, allowing this particular use to accumulate the 2000 miles so the vehicle could be put into service faster may have been the wrong decision, but I am sure that VEMS has amended their policies appropriately, and this should not happen again. People serving on the VEMS board of directors are elected from all the participating towns. Those with concerns about the management of the organization might want to consider volunteering your services instead of being critical when we don't really know all the facts. The other thing that concerns me is that OAA and VEMS are two separate entities, and both provide exemplary service! OAA personnel, except for two on the day shift, are unpaid volunteers. I don't know about VEMS, but having had to avail ourselves of both their services at 3:30 one morning, I can accurately say that had it not been for both agencies' immediate and capable response, my husband might not be alive today! Just saying....
Janis Hardy January 06, 2012 at 05:43 PM
I wasn't aware that Naugatuck Ambulance had a PSA license that covered the Town of Oxford. OAA is the licensed first responder for Oxford, and if they are not available due to their ambulances being out on other calls, then another town can be called in. It surprises me that Naugatuck will take a direct call since most emergency responders require a call to the 911 service for dispatch (even OAA), with the additional dispatch of VEMS when the medical emergency is heart-related. Some of the OAA first responders can respond from home when they have the necessary equipment, and even though Jerry and Madeline work the 'day shift' there are occasions when they will respond to calls when they are not on duty. Often times one will arrive at the scene before the ambulance, and we all know there are times when every second counts....
Janis Hardy January 06, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Since VEMS is supported by the towns that participate in their services, I wasn't aware they asked for funds directly. We are big supporters and have yet to receive a fundraising request directly from VEMS......
Craig Zac January 06, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Do we know the whole story yet? Where did this happen? why was she there? why was she in a "Company" car? Does everyone in the town do this? do the cops take their cruisers home? the State troopers also? Firemen? Do we pay for ALL their gas usage? If this woman is a Board Member, does that still give her the right to use the vehicle? How many town workers drive a town vehicle and are able to take it home? And lastly, Maybe this guy wanted this story covered up so as to not have to deal with this stuff thats going on now.. if its policy that the employees can take the car than she did nothing wrong and people shouldnt be calling for blood. if she didnt have authority to take the car then, Lord have mercy, the members here on Patch will chew her up and spit out the bones then run them over with a lawnmower....lol
John M. Joy January 06, 2012 at 06:18 PM
It was a VEMS vehicle, NOT a Town vehicle.
kathy johnson January 06, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Some are jumping to conclusions as sometimes we all do. As a former First Selectman of Oxford and a 35 year resident I feel that Jerry and Madalene have been devoted members of Oxford Ambulance. Based on the news article I see nothing wrong with their decision to use the vehicle. It may be that Vems will change the rules on out of state use except under certain circumstances but I do not think that the level of animosity expressed by some is warranted.
Janis Hardy January 06, 2012 at 08:05 PM
Amen, Kathy! And I wonder if many of the critics are aware of how much personal time Madeline put in at the emergency shelter when the power was out on both occasions. This was done on personal time, not 'company' time. It seems to me that some people think the supplement Oxford gives to OAA towards salaries (which are paid mostly through fees and services rendered) require the paid personnel to be on call 24/7 52 weeks a year and are not entitled to time off like the rest of the working class.
Rachael R January 07, 2012 at 12:52 AM
john: Is that a threat?
OXC January 07, 2012 at 02:46 AM
This is the problem when a non-profit is run by a close knit groups that lose their independence and start to think of the non-profit as their own personal assets. It is somewhat reminiscent of Seymour Ambulance and their issues. I would be worried if I was a board member that the personal use of vehicles needs to be recorded and reported to the IRS and a 1099 issued to that individual for the value of the use (unless the individual directly reimbursed the organization). I would also be concerned about the fact that Katharine Matthiess gave them the funding for this vehicle which I am sure they did not expect to be used for private of out state trips. Just like Dillinger, its not the crime but the taxes that get you in the end.
Mike Martell January 07, 2012 at 06:17 AM
Even if the accident was no big deal, Why hide the vehicle, makes you wonder? Again, why such a big luxury vehicle, where I work they have Rav 4's to use with the Ambulance and Fire Trucks, probably could get 2 Rav 4's for the cost of the big Ford. I am sure this will be rehashed during the next Town Budget.
Jim January 07, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Ms McKinney, all non-profit organizations buy their vehicles from the state bid. I believe the cost is closer to $29,000. Of course there are no bells and whistles, just a stripped down version. Hardly a luxury car. You bitterness about the Oxford Ambulance service leaves to believe that perhaps you were in one? Did it not go well? Were you treated poorly? If so did you make a complaint about your treatment? Was your treatment for a medical or psychological problem? Sounds like you have an ax to grind.
Janis Hardy January 08, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Elanie, I would welcome the care provided by OAA in a heartbeat! As I have said, my husband is alive today due to their care. VEMS does not respond to every call in Oxford, only certain designated situations, so writing VEMS because you have an axe to grind with OAA will not do the trick. If you want to get rid of the 'nepotism' etc, why not volunteer your own services and get yourself elected to the VEMS board of directors? I am sure thay are always on the lookout for qualified, competent individuals to help manage the organization. As to OAA, it is always unwise to paint everybody with a broad brush. Do you even know what the professional qualifications are for the individuals that you so readily dismiss?
Rachael R January 08, 2012 at 11:51 PM
E McKinney,Beth, Mike, Jordan, OXC, and other concerned residents: You are right to state your concern about the safety of our community. Accepting what any other upstanding community would not tolerate because we know the people, are politically connected to them, or are related to them is exactly what is weakening Oxford. Whether its a politician, tax collector, or paid member of a service in the Town we cannot keep accepting what is clearly unacceptable, if not criminal behavior as the status quo. Threatening people who speak out is a very unhealthy way to handle some issues Oxford needs to deal with, whether they use satire, or commentary it doesn't change what has and continues to be an on-going concern dating back at least to a former OAA arrest in 2009. A full scale investigation with the Ethics Commission, and the IRS needs to take place if no disciplinary action is taken by VEMS, or the Town.
J Bean January 09, 2012 at 12:07 AM
So funny how people on here serioulsy think they know what they're talking about, ahem E McKinney ahem. I read the article and I know for a fact that not all the facts are here and that this is spun to criminalize Mr. Schwab and Mrs. Taggart. The people who wrote this should be ashamed of themselves. Madalene Taggart is an upstanding citizen in the town of Oxford who only puts the needs of others before herself. For example, if you google her, you'll see an article where she volunteered at the Oxford High School during the power outtage back in November and she regularly sends care packages to the troops overseas. This out of state trip from an outside point of view may look like a fun road trip, but I know for a fact that she was helping someone out in need. She was only using the vehicle to put the necessary miles on it to get it commissioned quicker so that it could be out on the road to be used for emergency calls. As far as Mr. Schwab asking that "the vehicle not be visible to avoid the press" and for the matter to be handled internally, well could you blame him? I mean look at how this has been spun way out of proportion already. This is ridiculous. These people are being made out to be criminals and yet if you live in the Valley and/or town of Oxford and need ambulance assistance, guess who's going to be showing up. My suggestion to everyone on here, look at everything the OAA and VEMS has done for the community before you get your torches and pitchforks.
J Bean January 09, 2012 at 12:12 AM
It was a VEMS vehicle that wasn't even commissioned yet. She only took it to put the necessary miles on it so that it could be out on the road quicker to respond to emergency calls.
J Bean January 09, 2012 at 12:35 AM
Suggestion: Just don't call 911 if you have such a problem with emergency services.
J Bean January 09, 2012 at 12:44 AM
It wasn't even commissioned yet. She took it to help put the necessary miles on it so it could be used on the road for emergency calls.
J Bean January 09, 2012 at 12:50 AM
Suggestion: You write a letter to VEMS asking them not to respond to your residence in the event of an emergency since you have such a problem with them.
MBB January 10, 2012 at 07:02 AM
E McKinney you need to do a little more research before you start jumping to conclusions. The VEMS vehicles are never used for personal use, unless they are putting miles on a vehicle (which NEEDS to be done considering the vehicle was brand new). Without the miles being put onto the vehicle, the truck would furthermore be out of service until the appropriate milage was reached...
OXC January 10, 2012 at 01:18 PM
MBB- not true VIS article clearly states vehicles are used by employees for personal use (person involved in accident was not an employee but volunteer). I do have a question, I was always told not to break-in a new vehicle by putting highway miles on it, very bad for the transmission? You want to break in with a variety of speeds and driving conditions?
Janis Hardy January 10, 2012 at 02:27 PM
OXC: You can't always rely on the accuracy of articles in the VIS. The vehicle that was used here already had more than 1000 miles on it, and upon return from this trip would have accumulated the 2000 miles they needed before placing the vehicle into service. I also heard that that damage has already been paid for by the responsible party's insurance co. So, with the vehicle fixed, the policies reviewed and modified, where's the beef?
OXC January 10, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Janis- If no beef why did Jerry try to hid the fact of the accident from the board which is clearly stated/implied in the Accident Report prepared and released by VEMS. And I quote from their report: Schwab asked VEMS Executive Director Robert Pettinella “to keep the matter handled internally.” This is primarily for the Board of VEMS to deal with as it is their issue and I am sure they will take appropraite steps.
kathy johnson January 10, 2012 at 05:19 PM
All this reminds of that old entertainer and comedian Jimmy Durante( all of you born before 1960 will remember him) to quote "every body wants to get into the act". He always closed his show by saying ( which was his signature line) " good night Mrs. Calabash where ever you are". Please stop beating up our good people who keep us safe in Oxford. To quote God(George Burns ) "Say good night Gracie" To which Gracie would reply "say good night Gracie".
CR February 10, 2012 at 09:15 PM
Really people.. you've got to be kidding.. There clearly are people wearing too many hats in the valley.. there certainly needs to be separation and changing the entire board of directors is a great solution. Place people from the community that are NOT EMS related and have "hidden agendas" As for Mrs. Taggart.. my question is why didn't she take her TOWN of OXFORD vehicle?? hmmm.. Why doesn't she use her PERSONAL vehicle??? The other line with "breaking in a vehicle" is a joke.. There's no 2000 mile break in period. REALLY?? come on. Then her son is trying to cover it up for her.. Its great that she does things for Oxford EMS, but VEMS is a separate entity, and needs to be treated as such. I sincerely hope that some sort of disciplinary action is rendered against Mrs. Taggart, and that the board of directors is disemboweled so that it can get fresh people without hidden agendas, and work to improve the VEMS organization. The good ol' boy and girl game/network needs to stop.
Will Wilkin February 11, 2012 at 06:26 AM
My sincere thanks to Madalene Taggart, Jerry Schwab, and all the other emergency responders at VEMS and OAA. Thank you for all the sacrifice of your time and energy that you give so the people of Oxford and surrounding communities will have help available in emergencies. Please be assured that many grateful people in your community know better than to let a few incendiary newspaper sentences turn us into a mob. The genuinely relevant details we want to know are not in the article, above all that there were no injuries, which we can only infer by there being no mention. Genuinely objective journalists with humane concerns would have started with that facet of the story. Gleening from the comments also that the accident was faulted to the other driver seems relevant. The tone of the article seems to be nothing more than a rush to cause exactly the acrimony found above, devoid of the more important facts needed to truly understand the situation. Are we to expect more of this kind of "journalism?" If so, I'll go elsewhere for my news, to sources devoted to genuinely shedding light instead of just throwing fire.
Janis Hardy February 11, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Great post, Wil. I agree completely! While the problem needed to be addressed by the Board of Directors and a new policy adopted, this has just been an opportunity for those who wish to sling negativity to do so. But then, isn't this the kind of 'journalism' that one would expect from this reporter from the Valley Independent Sentinel? Thankfully, the reporting we get from Paul and the other contributors to "The Patch" is much more factual and much less incendiary.
John M. Joy February 11, 2012 at 05:33 PM
This story is over a month old. Any reason it's coming back around now? Was there something I missed?
Will Wilkin February 11, 2012 at 05:40 PM
No John, I missed it the first time around, but noticed it yesterday when a new comment put it back on the Patch front page. So I clicked it, read it, commented, and then only later noticed it was a month old.
abc May 10, 2013 at 11:21 AM
Hey Will! How's your son doing? Hope to see you 'round, man. Would love to put some solar panels on our house. We had another company tell us that we need to replace the shingles first.....?? Make love & be cool & we'll all be OK, as Dawn says. See ya. - Elaine
Will Wilkin May 11, 2013 at 05:25 PM
Hi Elaine, Imagine meeting you here in a discussion over a year old! Of all places.... If you are following the VEMS, there are a lot more recent articles with more relevant news. You wrote "How's your son doing? ...Would love to put some solar panels on our house. We had another company tell us that we need to replace the shingles first...." My son is doing great! He is a serious musician, and keeps busy as our company composer: http://madeinusasolar.us/Symphonies.html So you see, I'm no longer in the employ of the old solar install company, having started my own company. That "other solar company" bid you mentioned probably won't include a new and original symphony dedicated to you, but ours will! And of course we will build your system from all made in USA materials, another thing that makes us unique. My partner Mike and I have each built or serviced well over 100 solar PV systems. We will give you the highest quality installation workmanship, and we will bid a competitive price against whatever import installation you may have had quoted. Elaine, please give my company, Made In USA Solar LLC, a chance to bid on that solar electric system!

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