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No Discipline in Personal Use of Conn. EMS Vehicle

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- A member of the Valley Emergency Medical Services board of directors, who drove a company vehicle out of state last month and got into an accident, will likely not face disciplinary action.

That's according to board members who met Tuesday night to discuss the incident which involved board Treasurer Madelene Taggart, who is the mother of VEMS Board of Directors President Jerry Schwab.

The board met behind closed doors for two hours and questioned Taggart and Schwab.

A written statement issued by the board following the meeting said, "In response to events that have occurred, VEMS will be updating its vehicle usage policy. The VEMS organization has evolved over time and certain areas will be updated to reflect these changes. No disciplinary actions have been taken at this time. This incident investigation is considered closed, pending any new information upon receipt of the police accident report."

VEMS Board of Directors Vice President Jared Heon said Wednesday that no votes were taken Tuesday night, as it was a special meeting. He said the purpose of the meeting was for board members to talk to Taggart and Schwab about the incident.

Heon said the board would next meet at 7 p.m. Jan. 19 at Seymour Ambulance Association headquarters. Whether Taggart will be disciplined at that time remains to be seen. Heon said it's likely the board will discuss policy changes regarding vehicle usage at that meeting.

Officials said Taggart did not violate any existing policies.

According to a VEMS report of the incident, prepared by Heon, Taggart got into an accident on her way back from a trip to the Washington, D.C., area on Dec. 21.

The report says Taggart was involved in an accident on Interstate 95 in Maryland. Taggart's son and his girlfriend were in the 2012 Ford Expedition she was driving when a tractor-trailer hit the truck. Nobody was injured in the crash.

The report says that Taggart took the truck to the D.C. area "to get items belonging to her son's girlfriend's deceased father."

The report further states that Schwab initially got the okay from VEMS Executive Director Robert Pettinella to use the new truck. Pettinella agreed to have the truck brought to Oxford EMS, where Schwab is employed, on Dec. 19. Taggart said she saw Pettinella in passing, and told him she would be using the truck to move some items, the report says.

Taggart contacted Schwab following the accident, and Schwab, in turn, attempted to get in touch with Pettinella, to inform him of the accident. The report says that Schwab asked Pettinella "to keep the matter handled internally," but Pettinella told both Schwab and Taggart that "he would not lie if someone asked him about the incident."

The report goes on to say that a day after the truck was being repaired at Gabby's, Pettinella learned that another VEMS board member had seen damage to the truck, and from there, told Schwab that other board members had become of aware of what transpired. A meeting of the board was convened after Christmas to discuss the incident, according to the report.

Heon said it's his hope the incident doesn't reflect negatively on the VEMS organization.

"The individuals involved with the specific incident are members of the VEMS board, which is an oversight board for the VEMS organization," Heon said.

"The paramedics responding to medical emergencies throughout the Valley to aid those in need were not involved with this incident. It's my hope that the public does not see these paramedics, who are out there helping people, in a bad light, because of this situation."

Schwab and Pettinella did not return phone calls and emails for comment late Wednesday.



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