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EMS chief in employment limbo

Resignation still pending, commission will meet Friday

Staff writer

County commissioners failed Monday for a second time to accept the resignation of emergency medical services director Ed Debesis, agreeing to have more discussion at a special meeting Friday.

An email encouraging EMS crewmembers to attend Monday’s county commission meeting brought 16 supporters of EMS director Ed Debesis to voice opposition to his resignation.

Jamie Shirley, EMS office manager, sent an email to all of the crew lists Friday afternoon.

“I told them there would be a commission meeting Monday and it would involve EMS and Ed,” Shirley said.

Debesis gave commissioners his resignation, effective June 1, at the end of last week’s meeting. He’d spoken to commissioners earlier in a scheduled agenda appearance but returned later to resign. Asked the reason for his resignation after the meeting, Debesis said, “I’m tired.”

Among Debesis’s supporters at Monday’s meeting were Kim Ross, Sue Wadkins, Brian Whiteside, Greg Holub, Robert Church, Ben Steketee, Dale Westbrook, Kevin Marler, and Kyle Isaac.

Not all of them spoke, but those who did praised Debesis’s leadership of the department.

“Ed Debesis has taken us from disorganized cities who don’t want to play with you in the same sandbox to a level of ‘family,’” Peabody paramedic Larry Larsen said. “I think it would be a grave disservice to this county if Ed did go away. He truly did get the EMS to stop fighting and bickering.”

“Ed has brought everyone together as a unit, not as individuals,” Kim Ross said. “If you guys allow Ed to turn in his resignation, this whole county loses. This man is burning more ends to a candle than there is.”

“In May of this year and August of this year, we needed your ambulance for critical services,” Pat Nystrom, who lives north of Canada, said. “Your EMS people were very professional both times.”

Commissioner Kent Becker said he was surprised and shocked to hear last week that Debesis had resigned. He believes Debesis is working too many hours and the department needs a training officer and an assistant director.

“How are you going to have a family life?” Becker asked.

Commissioner Randy Dallke alluded that commission chairman Dianne Novak is to blame for Debesis’s resignation.

“Just let him do his job and don’t micromanage him,” Dallke told Novak.

Dallke said Debesis has often filled shifts when crewmembers are out sick and there is no one else to fill the shift.

“I’m ready to continue on with a meeting with Ed and see what we can do to work this out,” Dallke said. “I’ve got a lot of years invested in this and I don’t intend to let that go.”

“I will continue to hold his feet to the fire on the budget as I do all department heads,” Novak answered.

Then she turned toward Debesis.

“The choice is up to you,” Novak said. “Would you like us to accept your resignation or would you like to rescind your resignation.”

Dallke moved to hold an executive session at a later time.

“That motion was made while I was asking a question,” Novak said.

“I made the decision that I made because I am tired,” Debesis said. “At this point I don’t know if that’s the way to go with all the things that have been said today. I’ve never had people fight to keep me working.”

Debesis said he wants to meet with commissioners and talk with them.

“I agree with Kent, there needs to be a training officer, there needs to be an assistant director,” Debesis said.

Debesis and commissioners did not set a time for Friday’s meeting.

Last modified March 29, 2018

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