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Nov 12, 2014 12:37 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Westhampton War Memorial Ambulance Suspends Two, Fires One For Violating Protocol

Nov 12, 2014 12:54 PM

Two volunteer chiefs were suspended—and a paid paramedic was fired—by the Westhampton War Memorial Ambulance Association for picking up an injured Westhampton man from an upstate hospital in an association vehicle last month and driving him home without first securing Suffolk County approval.

On October 7, Assistant Chief Mike Jacobs and paramedic Ed Blatt took a Westhampton War Memorial Ambulance chief’s vehicle to the Albany Medical Center to pick up Tyler Giancola, a 21-year-old Westhampton native who was recovering at the hospital after being assaulted near the campus of SUNY at Oneonta, where he attends school, acting Chief Albert Tudisco said earlier this week.

By taking the vehicle, which is equipped to provide basic life support, without first getting clearance, Mr. Jacobs and Mr. Blatt violated state and county protocols that limits the ambulance company’s jurisdiction to Suffolk County, Mr. Tudisco said. He added that Chief Dave McClure had knowledge of this trip, though he did not travel with the other men.

“In basic life-support situations, we can do inter-facility transports, but they have to be approved through the county, and there are protocols that go along with that,” he said. “It’s unclear what exactly they were doing, but, basically, they did it without getting approval from the county, and that’s pretty much not allowed.”

Mr. McClure and Mr. Jacobs are serving 90-day suspensions, Mr. Tudisco said, meaning that both must refrain from all company-related activities, and neither will be eligible to run for officer positions in the department’s election later this month. Mr. Blatt, a paid employee of the ambulance district, was terminated last month.

Both Mr. McClure and Mr. Jacobs declined to comment when reached this week, and Mr. Blatt could not be reached.

Mr. Tudisco, who was the 1st assistant chief prior to the suspensions and also serves on the ambulance association’s board of directors, said the decision was made based strictly on protocol, acknowledging that the actions of the men were not malicious but rather an effort to help a family in need.

“Protocol and policy is what got them in trouble,” he said. “There’s an old phrase that no good deed goes unpunished.”

Beth Flanagan, Mr. Giancola’s mother, said she was concerned when the Albany Medical Center discharged her son to her—he suffered a serious brain injury in September—and advised her that she would be tasked with transporting him the estimated 200 miles to St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson. Ms. Flanagan said she turned to Mr. Jacobs, a longtime friend, for help and he offered to take care of the transport.

“They offered to help us, because it’s a long drive, and the hospital was telling me they needed me to get him down here myself, and I was nervous about doing that,” Ms. Flanagan said, noting that she did not learn of the suspensions until contacted Tuesday by a Press reporter. “I’m really sorry to hear that they have suffered consequences as a result of helping us.”

Oneonta Police say Mr. Giancola hit his head on the pavement after being punched in the face by 18-year-old Joseph Schof of Bullville on Main Street during the early morning hours of September 14. Mr. Schof was charged with second-degree assault, a felony.

After spending two weeks in intensive care and undergoing brain surgery, Mr. Giancola’s recovery has progressed faster than doctors anticipated, Ms. Flanagan said. “His recovery has even amazed the surgeons in Albany,” she said. “When we made our last visit up there, one of them did a double-take coming in the room—and usually these guys are better at controlling their faces. He couldn’t believe how quickly he’d progressed.”

Mr. Giancola is finishing his recovery at home in Westhampton and he hopes to return to school as early as next semester, his mother said.

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sounds like they were just trying to do the right thing for a local community member.....
By semaj (10), riverside on Nov 16, 14 12:16 PM
3 members liked this comment
Do the right thing is asking permission. These vehicles do not belong to members they belong to taxpayers. Its easy to take something you don't pay for and act like the hero.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Nov 16, 14 1:15 PM
1 member liked this comment
This is a shame. Yes they should have sought permission but Mr. Jacobs is an upstanding citizen & long time volunteer & the Giancola family deserves any help they can get during this time.
By beachbme11978 (78), Westhampton Beach on Nov 16, 14 9:18 PM
1 member liked this comment
There u go again. Its ok to break the rules and not be accountable.
By realistic (472), westhampton on Nov 18, 14 7:28 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By mightycolemack (15), Hampton Bays on Nov 17, 14 9:25 AM
1 member liked this comment
As an ambulance service providing agency you are you are certified by NYS Department of Health. Although they may have thought they were doing the right thing by helping a family in need, they jeopardized all residents by risking the revocation of Westhampton Ambulance's operating certificate.
By Little D (9), East Quogue on Nov 17, 14 2:56 PM
The fire and ambulance often take their vehicles out of their area. I once saw a local fire chief Christmas shopping in Roosevelt Field. Years ago there was one chiefs vehicle which was a crown Victoria. Now we have 5 or 6 60k Tahoe's cruising around town. After a while we are just wasting money, and have to question how this is helping save lives.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Nov 17, 14 4:17 PM
1 member liked this comment
Protocol is protocol. But why complain about "tax payers money" when they were doing a good deed? It's amazing how everyone over looks how "tax payers money" is used on a daily basis by ambulance and fire departments. How come a "Chief" drives a departments vehicle out of their jurisdiction to their real job to be siting in a parking lot for three hours? The chief can't leave their job, nobody else can use the vehicle but "tax payers" pay for their gas to use the vehicles for the leisure life? Our ...more
By SHTownHB (75), Hampton Bays on Nov 17, 14 10:16 PM