Guest columnist John McVeigh: Kudos to new Hilltown ambulance director

By JOHN MCVEIGH

Published: 04-13-2023 5:31 PM

So for many years I have been complaining about the direction that Hilltown Community Ambulance Association was going in with their former director and some board members, publicly, privately and recently at Huntington’s Annual Town Meeting last June. I stood in opposition to passing the Proposition 2½ override to cover their cost to the town. Many were in shock at what I had to say, especially being on the Fire Department and voting against it.

Now, I wasn’t there to represent the Fire Department, I was there as a taxpayer and wanted to relate that gross lack of leadership, maintenance, facility amenities, and many failed attempts to staff and respond to calls for what we were paying for, from my observations being in the department. Plus taking all of the other surrounding towns’ issues and to be that guy and finally stand up and say we’ve had enough and the taxpayers should, too.

Many of the board members despised me for years, along with the former director, for trying to get things done with accountability and to get what we are supposedly paying for by calling them out. So much that I was told I cannot step foot on their property.

I laughed when I got that message, but did what I was asked. So this past June, I stood up at Town Meeting and let the town know what was going on and many were in shock, and some angry that I was doing this in this forum. But enough was enough.

Now I know that regardless, we still had to fund emergency services, but I just didn’t want to fund this particular administration that has failed us for so many years; until now. HCAA’s new Director Bailey Jones has taken the reins in force, and I am ecstatic to see someone like him in charge, along with a couple new additions to the board.

Since he has taken the role, a lot has changed for the better. More calls are being responded to, there is more staffing, maintenance is up a 1000% (but is paying heavily for the lack of previous routine maintenance), training more with local departments, etc. But most of all, he is honest, outgoing and communicates well.

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Now, it’s not perfect or great yet, but what a turnaround in such a small period. Thank you, Bailey, for doing all you are doing; along with your great staff who I see a complete morale change in from before. But your work isn’t over, and you need the six towns’ help and I know this, as well as you and the board. With this said, I will be voting in favor to not only pass your budget this year, but every town should be adding a minimum per capita cost of $10.

I know you need to be in the $45-plus range from your $29-$32 now, and taxpayers need to know this too. Taxpayers might freak out, but we now have someone who can lead the troops, as well as having a couple new board members that know their stuff, guide them properly and need our help to get them to be where they need to be, to run more effectively without constant breakdowns or staffing woes, etc.

Thank you, Bailey, for all of your continuous hard work as well as your staff. I am happy to work alongside of you as well as pay a few more bucks in taxes, because now I know they will be going to a director making a change for the better, the future, and the lives of the six towns you provide services to.

John McVeigh lives in Huntington. He is a former selectman and employee of Hilltown Community Ambulance Association. 

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