Silver Lake FD and Silver Lake Rescue clash over call off of mutual aid

sl-rescue-squad-backConflict over who has authority to do what on calls with Silver Lake Fire Department and Silver Lake Rescue Squad reappeared this week — with the fire department disputing the rescue squad’s action this time around.

Village Trustee Sotiria Wilber brought up the issue at Wednesday’s Village Board meeting under committee reports. She referred to a letter that Fire Chief Andrew McFarlane sent to the Village Board dated March 5 that said a rescue squad EMT on the scene of a fire call on March 4 called off automated mutual response from other fire departments because the stove fire at a home on ┬áDepot Street was out at that time. McFarlane contends that Silver Lake Rescue Squad personnel are not sufficiently trained to make such a judgment on a fire call and should have waited until fire department personnel were on the scene (six were en route, McFarlane says).

Automated response refers to a system in which multiple fire departments are dispatched to certain types of calls, such as structure fires, to speed the response of all the necessary equipment and manpower, rather than waiting for the home department to arrive and then call for aid.

silver-lake-fd-doorAn earlier dispute about conflicting authority between the departments — dating back to last fall — was just settled in January. In that case, rescue squad supporters on the Village Board were upset that a fire department member, acting as a first responder, had called for a paramedic from Town of Salem Fire/Rescue to a scene of a medical call before staff from the rescue squad had a chance to evaluate the situation.

The fire department is part of the village government. The village contracts with Silver Lakes Rescue Squad, a private entity, for emergency medical services.

Conflict between partisans who favor the fire department or the rescue squad has dominated village board discourse for over two years.

In the March 5 letter, McFarlane says the action by the rescue squad EMT was inappropriate because that person may not have been trained as a firefighter and raises a liability issue for the village if it were to happen again. He also references the earlier conflict over medical calls:

I have 6 fire fighters that were on the call asking how a person or persons that aren’t trained as fire fighters can make the determination to stand down our mutual aid from other departments. This being done creates a liability to me and my fire fighters. Fortunately the incident wasn’t as serious as initially thought. My concern and the members of this department’s concern is the fact that it isn’t SLRS’s place to make a determination of how or what responds to a fire call. We aren’t allowed to make any decisions on patient care for medical calls even though some of our members responding to those calls have the same level of training or higher.”

McFarlane’s whole letter is available here.

Wilber said at Wednesday’s meeting that she would like to see some kind of meeting between the agencies to make sure this does not happen again. On Saturday, she said a Committee of the Whole meeting is planned for Wednesday in which this matter could be on the agenda.

Note: We offered Silver Lake Rescue Squad an opportunity to respond by emailing a officer of the squad on Friday and following up with emails to the general rescue squad email address and a private message to the squad’s Facebook on Saturday. As of posting time late Saturday afternoon, we had not received a response. If we get one, we will post it. — DH



  1. Tired says:

    So tired of the grade school level maturity by the entire village polital interests. Its time to do away with both the fire department and rescue squad and just contract with someone less interested in the bickering. Grow up…all of you! Sit back and listen to yourselves.

  2. KevinSmith says:

    As a past Vol Fire Fighter and EMT, Fire fighter”s shouldn’t make decision on Medical calls and EMT’s shouldn’t make decisions on Rescue and Fire calls. I’d rather have too many on the scene and then send some home, than not having enough and possibly loose life or property.

  3. Nothing to say now??? says:

    SLRS and their supporters have nothing to say now!!! They were wrong and should be teprimanded. They were already told once not to do that. They stepped on the FD toes and put themselves and the residents in harms way!!! But when the FD made a call for a paramedic to respond because they were stuck by a train and the patient NEEDED a paramedic they were all over them. Double standards don’t work!!! If you choose yo do what is right for the citizen. If you go with that response, it will be the right decision.

  4. Bernard Punsley says:

    Well…to quote Mike Faber “when was the last time we had a fire in Silver Lake”.
    Ahh….Mike………this week!? I’m sure both the SLPD and the SLRS took appropriate actions, calling off mutual aid response, making sure power to the stove(gas vs electric)was shut off, checked the walls behind the stove and cabinets above it for possible fire extension with their heat sensing monitors, ventilated the building, made sure no occupants were injured, and a myriad of other actions that need to be done. Giving a “first in report”…what the status of what the situation is was certainly warranted by the SLPD and SLRS. Deciding what the appropriate response of fire companies enroute should be VIOLATED every known principal of UNIFIED INCIDENT COMMAND! But SLRS has been “wagging the tail” of SLFD for quite awhile now…getting SLPD to assist in that effort is another feather in their cap! IF SLFD members go so far as to put a band aid on a patient without SLRS approval, Sue Gerber has threatened to have them arrested “THIS HAS GOT TO STOP”(her words, not mine!) But police and rescue can now make command decisions in the field a fire emergency? Attorney Gray will have her hands full tryinig to sort out that legal dilemma, but her plate is pretty much full right now with the DA’s office investigation!

  5. Bernard Punsley says:

    In the spirit of interdepartmental training, both SLRS and SLFD have announced they will be holding joint sponsored Extrication Seminar. They will practice removing the foot from Mike Faber’s mouth, repeatedly. Advanced registration is required.

  6. Bernard Punsley says:

    As the fire department continues to slide with virtually no support from the current board, and even less projected with pending “Save Our Rescue Squad” candidates coming on board, what is “Plan B”. When fire finally goes under, does Rescue seriously think the “status quo” is going to be maintained. Do they have a “Plan B”? Readily apparent the board does not. That’s on top of all of the other financial woes and legal issues facing our village. Plan B?

  7. What do you have to say now?? says:

    To all the SLRS supporters, what do you have to say now??? When the FD called a paramedic because the SLRS was stuck by the train, they received a letter saying they weren’t allowed to do that from Sue and could face charges. Now, they do the exact same thing, and maybe even worse, because they are not trained and do not have the equipment, and Sue brushes it off. At least the FD members have training as EMTs or even paramedics to be able to make those calls. As a matter of fact, this is the second time that the SLRS has called off the FD at a scene. How can the SLRS do such a thing??? Where is the playing nice there??? This private organization has very much overstepped their bounds!!!

  8. Bruce Francart says:

    The only answer…Dissolve the village government. If someone could get a petition going, we may be able to get it on November’s ballet.

  9. Bullied in Silver Lake says:

    Just to be clear, if SLPD or SLRS calls off responding fire units(I’m not sure who gave them the authority to do that….village policy?), do they automatically assume that liability if something goes awry? Seems like police should handle police matters, fire should handle fire matters, and rescue should handle rescue matters. But it does not appear that is happening. Things continue to spiral.Where is our board on all of this?

  10. To Kevin Smith says:

    Kevin that was the way business was done a long time ago. In todays world the firefighter is also an EMT. Silver Lake firefighters are First Responders, EMT’s, EMT IV Techs and Paramedics. They take their orders on patient care from the Kenosha County EMS system. That system tells them when to call a paramedic. Silver Lake Rescue left that system and went to Burlington. Two different systems two different guide lines. This is not the way to do business. Kevin by the way. Silver lake Rescue is not volunteer. They are a private company that pays all their employees.

  11. Embarrassed SL resident says:

    I am disgusted with all the crap that has been going on in this town. Ems are responsible for patient care and that’s it they have no jurisdiction iver any types of incidents Slrs is a business I get that and their priority is to protect that business just like any other business that is their priority unfortunately the citizens take a back seat to their priority. This village is in utter chaos from the top down. People of Silver Lake wake up and dissolve this village and get better services with lower taxes.

  12. Better with Bernie says:

    Let’s be honest shall we? Although the SLRS crowd wants you to believe that bad behavior is displayed on “both sides” of the debate, in reality it is prevelent on only one side: SLRS supporters.
    Just attend a Silver Lake Board meeting and judge for yourself. That is if you can put up with Mike Faber’s threatening and disruptive behavior, Willkomm’s Wild West Show rages, Bryner giving the finger, Dykstra and the Queen’s daughter shouting out at anytime during the meeting, et el.
    Now we have a board that is going to be hamstrung with a silly and dangerous edict NOT to contract with Salem Township even though it is in the best intererst of Silver Lake citizens.
    I would much rather put my chances of surviving a major medical event in the hands of a Paramedic rather than an IV Tech.
    I would much rather put my life and property in the hands of fire fighters who are fully staffed around the clock as opposed to our own volunteers who have had their hours reduced, and threatened with reprisal if they respond to a medical emergency by The Queen.
    In addition, maybe would could eliminate the Silver Lake Maintainance Dept. and let the crotchety old head retire for good.
    What a mess………..and if not Salem what then? All the SLRS side can say is “NO”. So, where is the plan for the SLFD to survive and be properly funded and continue to provide quality services to our village?
    What is the plan?
    PS – “NO” is not a plan!

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