A debate ensued at the Harlan County E-911 Advisory Board Tuesday after a motion to purchase three hand-held radios and one repeater transmitter (mobile) for the Tri-City Rescue Squad was presented. After a lengthy discussion, those in favor of the purchase finally won.
Harlan County Rescue Squad Capt. Chris Allen opposed the motion, expressing “grave concern” with the purchase due to the organization having a past history of non-compliance. After the motion to purchase was made by Harlan County Sheriff Marvin Lipfird, three other members voted against the purchase, which presented a split vote. E-911 Advisory Board Chairman David McGill cast the deciding vote, approving the motion.
“If the Tri-City Rescue Squad can prove they are compliant for six months to a year, then I’d be for this purchase,” said Allen. “With their past history that’s a big chunk of money to just throw out there when everything else is not there. I just think they need to prove themselves worthy of having them and do what they say they are going to do. In the past, we’ve called for them to help us and they won’t show up. If you’re going to put radios out I’ve got members who need them and still some. I’m not voting them down, I just want them to show they are going to stay compliant.”
McGill said the condition of the purchase is that the Tri-City Rescue Squad stay in state compliance. He said the radios and mobile will be the property of the E-911 Advisory Board and can be retrieved if the squad falls out of compliance.
“We’re crippling them by not giving them communications,” said McGill. “How can they do their job effectively if we don’t give them the communications. All I’m asking is that we give them a fighting chance. They have paid a price and now they want to come around and do things right.”
Allen said he felt they had already had “their fighting chance” when the squad wanted to “territorialize.”
“If you shoot yourself in the foot it’s going to make you limp,” said Allen. “I’ve heard this stuff for the last 20 years. In the past they wanted to stay with their own radio communications. We haven’t handicapped them, they have handicapped themselves.”
“That was then and this is now,” said McGill. “They have given me a complete new set of bylaws, a new set of standardized operating guidelines. They are going to begin turning in to me the proper paperwork. Me and Capt. Stephanie Vanover had a 45-minute phone conversation Friday and I was pleased. She expressed to me we are all adults and we all need to play together. She said she wanted the best for her community and the county. All I can do is take her at her word.”
Allen said he felt by making this purchase the board was setting a standard, “do a few pieces of paperwork and get anything you want.” He said this has been the pattern of operation for the Tri-City Rescue Squad for years.
“You all don’t have to work with and around them like I have to,” said Allen. “I’ve been in this for the past 21 years and it’s been the same old story every two or three years. I just wish they’d stand up and be professional — do the right thing.”
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510 or at email@example.com