Liberty Township trustees are considering firing the township’s medical director in the midst of a debate over the township’s emergency medical services.
Township trustees have discussed a proposal from Delaware County that would replace the township's cross-trained fire and EMS services with their own exclusively EMS-trained crews. The change reportedly would save the township an uncertain amount on reimbursements to the township and other fees paid.
Hundreds attended the Dec. 3 meeting, with many donning red T-shirts that read "Save Liberty Fire/EMS" on the front, and 36 residents spoke in opposition to the proposed changes.
Trustee Shyra Eichhorn spoke out against the proposed changes, while trustees Melanie Leneghan and Mike Gemperline declined to second Eichhorn’s motions to slow the process.
Trustees met again Monday, Dec. 17, with agenda items labeled “Medical Director” and “EMS Discussion” on the schedule and another packed house full of “Save Liberty Fire/EMS” shirts.
To begin the meeting, trustees called for a closed session to discuss “compensation for a public employee” moments after the meeting began, rather than holding it before the meeting or at the end, which is typical practice.
“This won’t take long,” Leneghan said.
For 71 minutes, hundreds in attendance stood in the hallway and outside.
“The trustees are winning the battle of attrition,” someone in the crowd muttered after an hour.
After resuming at 8:11 p.m., trustees tabled both conversations with little discussion.
But when they reached the “other business” portion of the night, Eichhorn revealed that she desired and suggested reappointing medical director Warren Yamarick.
Eichhorn implied the topic was discussed in the executive session and said the township’s EMS operation would not be able to function without a medical director in place Jan. 1.
Yamarick himself, addressing the trustees, agreed. He said a new medical director -- or Delaware County, if it took over the role -- would struggle to implement a new protocol and organize response plans in just a few days.
“This is not about me and my job,” he told the crowd. “This is about those firemen who I’ve been dedicated to for 28 years and for you guys.”
Eichhorn said the idea of bringing back the experienced Yamarick had never been disputed until after the Dec. 3 meeting, where Yamarick spoke passionately against the proposed EMS changes.
Despite many people requesting to speak on the medical director and EMS topics, only four residents got the chance.
Leneghan and Gemperline passed a resolution without the support of Eichhorn to legislate that only three speakers on each side of the issue were allowed time at the meeting.
“In five years being here, we’ve never ever done such a thing,” Eichhorn said.
One resident spoke in favor of investigating an EMS change.
Again, no action was taken on the topics.
Eichhorn suggested forming a task force on the topic for a second meeting in a row, but was again rebuffed by the other trustees. A noncommittal Gemperline claimed he was being “intimidated” into a decision by the angry crowd.
Leneghan said the topic would be put “on the back burner” until “at least the end of February,” despite Eichhorn and the crowd’s requests for action against the EMS changes.
“No decisions are going to be made until we have all the information gathered,” she said.
At the end of the trustees’ discussion, Gemperline motioned to extend Yamarick’s contract by 30 days through Jan. 31. The motion was seconded by Eichhorn and passed, with Leneghan voting "no."