The Union Township Life Squad First Responders held a press conference tonight stating they fear for the safety of the residents if Chief Gerald Bowerman is not removed from his position immediately. Many residents gathered at the West Milton Municipal Park to support the squad and listen to Assistant Chief Kevin Vore, Captain Renee Nevels, and former Captain Nathan Dewey voice their concern over recent actions that have left them without a job and wondering how well the members of the community will be served in the event of an emergency.
Dewey, who has spent his whole life in West Milton and Union Township, was fired after his shift on Saturday, April 10th. Vore and Nevels were placed on administrative leave via letters from the chief Saturday and Bowerman had the locks on the station changed while giving the new key to only a few members of the squad. If a call for help comes in, and no one with a key is around, responders will have to call in mutual aid from a nearby jurisdiction. This will waste precious time and most likely cause additional problems for someone in need of immediate help from local squad members. Dewey, Vore and Nevels say these actions are a result of complaints made against the chief.
Multiple letters of complaint were brought to the Board of Directors in February, citing questionable medical practices, misuse of funds, unfair treatment of employees and the unethical use of a computer. The Board promised they would look into the matter and the medical director suspended Bowerman’s paramedic’s card, meaning he can no longer work as a paramedic, while still leaving him on the payroll.
A special meeting is being held on Thursday, April 15th at the Community Church in West Milton. Employees will attempt to vote out Chief Bowerman and members of the board, but the leaders are afraid they won’t have enough people show up due to fear of possible repercussions. Nevels said multiple statements were made by Chief Bowerman that “anyone that attends a meeting that will happen on Thursday will lose their jobs”. The Community Church is located at 2261 South Miami Street and the meeting will be held at 7pm.
After the conference Nathan Dewey told me there was no reason given to him at the time he was fired and he has no reprimands or marks on his record. Dewey used to be the captain of the squad until he was demoted in January 2010 for raising concerns about questionable actions of Chief Bowerman. As Captain he was responsible for QA/QI – basically a review of every EMS run – as well as being the EMS coordinator. Dewey says that while reviewing cases, he noticed Chief Bowerman turning over serious or complicated calls to basic crew members that did not have the experience to properly deal with the situation. He (Dewey) was also involved in reviewing a cardiac run with the EMS department at Good Samaritan Hospital in Dayton which raised concerns over the decisions being made by the chief. “When Chief Bowerman heard I was questioning his actions, he removed me from the position of Captain with a letter; he did not even do it in person.” Dewey states Bowerman now works with no set schedule of hours, coming and going as he pleases since he is no longer allowed to go on runs.
I also spoke with Kevin Vore for a few moments. He is very concerned for the residents of Union Township. During the conference he stated that “luckily today there were enough people around” when speaking of the locks being changed and only a few select people having keys to the station. But while we were talking, a resident came by to update Vore regarding an accident on Iddings Road that had just taken place as the press conference was in progress. He stated the City of Union Life Squad arrived on scene before the Union Township Squad. He then said what was on everyone’s mind: “If you want to know how these recent decisions will affect us, right there is your answer.”
Kevin’s wife, Tina, is also employed by the Union Township Life Squad. She told me about some of the other concerns the employees now have since the locks were changed and 3 key members of the squad are not allowed to be at work tomorrow. Tina is unsure if anyone with a key will be there to let her in at the beginning of her shift and is wondering who will be working with her if she can indeed get into the station.
I was informed there is a new employee that is only 18 years old. He has no experience since he just got his EMT card and he is not even old enough to drive one of the emergency vehicles since you have to be 21 or older to do so. I also was told another person was hired on yesterday simply after walking into the station to inquire if they were accepting applications. I was told he had not even finished filling out the application and was handed a key and hired on the spot. This “new hire” stated on the application he has one year of medical transport experience, but with no background check or drug test taking place no one is sure of his credentials or his reliability.