Connecticut Post, Bridgeport
Dec. 22—ANSONIA — The city has hired an outside lawyer to investigate allegations against the top-ranking member of its emergency medical services department.
The investigation is in response to a letter city officials say they received Friday, claiming members of the Ansonia Rescue and Medical Services held a vote of no confidence in the leadership of Chief Jared Heon.
The seven-page letter included the signatures of more than two dozen EMTs and a supervisor, and was addressed to Mayor David Cassetti and the Board of Aldermen.
In the letter, members of the department accused their chief of bullying those under him, double-dipping by working another job while on the schedule for Ansonia and spending department funds on high-end devices and leather chairs.
The letter comes as the department’s part-time EMT and supervisor staff are negotiating a contract with Ansonia, which is also considering to regionalize its EMS service, according to a city attorney and a spokesman for the union.
In an emailed statement to Hearst Connecticut Media, Heon said the letter was “likely due to the fact that the city, in the midst of union negotiations with the part-time employees, has elected to explore all options for EMS in Ansonia,” which he said he recused himself from “a few months back.”
“Just as these employees are concerned about potential changes impacting the organization and employment as it stands today, I share the same concern and look forward to playing a role in that process when appropriate,” he wrote in his statement.
Heon said the “the personal allegations against me are baseless and I fully intend to prove these as unsubstantiated, as every previous inquiry has also revealed.”
John Paul Marini, corporation counsel for Ansonia, said the city has retained a Westport employment attorney to conduct an independent investigation into the claims raised in last week’s letter.
“We immediately determined this is something that needs to be investigated,” Marini said.
Heon has not been disciplined for any of the accusations in the letter, Marini said.
The letter claims ARMS members “have been disheartened by the actions and behavior of Chief Heon.”
“He has tested our willpower and confidence in his skill, ability and leadership to adequately lead this department,” the letter states.
Marini said the investigation will also look into an allegation in the letter that Heon worked as a dispatcher for Shelton police during the same time he was supposed to be working for Ansonia.
“The claim, of course, will be looked into,” Marini said, but noted there is no “prohibition” against Heon holding a second job.
The letter also contends Heon is “actively” seeking to “dismantle” the ARMS and outsource the agency to Valley Emergency Medical Services.
The letter cites Heon’s position on the board of the organization, and a letter from the VEMS executive director, claiming the city “donated” five ambulances to the service.
Marini said the city is “exploring” regionalizing its EMS services with VEMS, but said ownership of the ambulances has not been turned over to the organization.
While some municipalities operate EMS services through an outside or volunteer organization that receives public funding, ARMS is run and staffed by Ansonia.
Heon is president of the VEMS board, according to the organization’s website. The most recent tax filing for VEMS lists him as president and an officer of the organization.
Marini said Heon is the official Ansonia representative for the organization, which among other things, provides mutual aid services.
Members are concerned regionalizing would replace ARMS with an outside group, according to Nate Smith, national representative for the International Association of EMTs and Paramedics, the union representing ARMS members.
“Certainly, they’re concerned about their livelihoods,” Smith said.
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