Commissioners fire EMS’s Larsen

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The Marion County commissioners fired Larry Larsen Oct. 26 from his duties with Marion County Emergency Medical Services and as assistant county coroner.

Commissioners had called for an executive session of 20 minutes, but after six minutes, the commissioners returned to open session, according to County Clerk Tina Spencer. They allowed the remaining time to elapse before voting 2-0 to terminate Larsen.

Larsen said why he was fired remains a mystery.

?I was told in open meeting that I know what it?s all about, but I am at a loss,? he said.

Sue Wadkins, an advanced emergency medical technician, said she doubts whether the reason Larsen was let go will ever be known by the public.

?I just see that (Larsen?s termination) will have an effect on EMS,? Wadkins said.

Regardless of the reason, Larsen said he holds no ill feelings.

?I wish EMS in Marion County well,? he said. ?I think the people deserve a good running system and I hope for the best.?

Larsen started working with the Marion County EMS about 24 years ago. He said he has seen the best of life and the end of life.

?I believe the future of EMS is going to be challenging and hard because volunteers are going away,? he said.

Larsen said when the commissioners told him he was terminated, it was as if someone had pulled the rug out from under him.

?It was not only extremely sad for family and friends to watch, and for my family and friends I am no longer there in any aspect of EMS and can?t render aid to those people.

?A fear that anybody has who is a compassionate human being is that there will always be that safety net underneath them?their neighbor, wife, EMS, fire, police?but the net is a little smaller,? he said.

Whistleblower

Larsen said he did report a problem within the department to the Kansas Board of EMS, but his motivation for doing so was to make the local system better.

Wadkins said even though Larsen contacted the state board, he did it because there was a lot of misinformation and not everyone was on the same page.

?But because of the original notification (Larsen made) to the board, there have been some great things that became available to the EMS department in Marion County,? she said.

Wadkins said they have had meetings with a board member from the Kansas Board of EMS in an effort to get correct information so everybody knows what they can and cannot do.

?As a result, we are working very well with Marion County hospitals as far as transfers and EMS protocol,? she said. ?I am just not sure if everyone is even aware that a lot of good has come from this.?

Wadkins said she credits Larry and his wife, Karen, also a paramedic, for passing on information that probably helped save some EMS certifications.

?If there hadn?t been an investigation done, there might have been things overlooked and never made right,? she said.

The exact nature of the violations could not be confirmed by the Kansas Board of EMS, Mark Grayson, agency investigator, said Monday.

However, there were some similarities with one complaint and the possibility of self-reported complaints in the June 2015 minutes from the state EMS board.

An official with the state board could not confirm whether the information at the June meeting was in fact regarding Marion EMS personnel or the service.

?Sometimes what is spoken about (in the minutes) is not the case you may or may not be thinking it is about,? Grayson said. ?Some cases are in similar places with similar themes, but may not actually be that case.?

Looking ahead

Larsen said he is disappointed in the commissioners? decision. Prior to their decision, he said he made 160 to 170 runs, which is now down to zero.

Larsen said when the ambulance call goes out from Peabody, where he lives, for something horrific, it will be difficult for him.

?I won?t be able to help people anymore (through EMS) in Marion County,? he said.

Larsen is still a paramedic and said he can use his skills in other areas of the state, but not in Marion County.

For now, he said he will continue to work with Life?Team.

Currently, he said there are a total of five ambulances in Marion County?at Peabody, Florence, Marion, Hillsboro and Tampa.

Burns, Lincolnville, Durham and Goessel have first-responders only, which means those four entities can do whatever they can within the scope of their license, according to Larsen.

Solid ground

Even though a lot has transpired in recent weeks, Wadkins said she believes the EMS department is on solid ground.

?Everyone who has ever called and needed help has always had someone respond,? she said. ?This department doesn?t consist of one person. Many people make up the Marion County EMS department.?

Wadkins said she doesn?t think it?s fair to give all the attention to the negativity.

?There?s so much that?s positive,? she said.

Commissioner Dan Holub said he was unable to talk about what happened in executive session last Monday, but he was willing to say that in no way was the decision vindictive.

?I feel sad about losing Larry, and this has all had such a negative effect,? Wadkins said. ?I do think it is unfortunate, and Larry will be missed.?

?The state board investigation is not over yet,? she added. ?When all is said and done, hopefully the situation with Larry will work itself out and whatever is best for those involved.?

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