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Letters to the Editor 

Published February 3, 2010 at 7:30 a.m.

Media Issue, the Sequel?

I love the hilarious mock Twitter cover on your latest issue, and Dan Bolles’ profile of Dennis Steele and Free Vermont Radio was wonderfully written [“Free at Last,” January 27].

Even funnier? That you devote most of your so-called “media” issue to Twitter and a bunch of bloggers.

Sure, Twitter is fun, and I appreciate Anne Galloway’s courageous tenacity, Jon Margolis’ acerbic wit, and the self-important mouse pad scrawlings of GMD gas bag John Odum and his trusty cyber-pit-bully J.D. “Grindin’ in the Grindhouse” Ryan (aka anonymous blogger/smear campaigner Thomas Rowley?) as much as any Vermont blogo-surfer.

But what of Vermont’s thriving micro-radio community? Or the Web 2.0 morphing and weekly reporting of a whole raft of local weekly newspapers around the state? Or the digital networking of Vermont’s more than two dozen community cable TV providers? Or Vermont’s exploding niche magazine market: Edible Green Mountains, Vermont Sports, Local Banquet? Or our own Vermont Commons: Voices of Independence multimedia news journal, circulating 10,000 copies of our bimonthly in 200 locations all over the state, with more than one dozen regular bloggers?

And jeezum, no mention of Vermont’s best magazine: Livin’ the Vermont Way?

I expect a follow-up issue — “What’s happening to Vermont Media, Part Deux” — very soon.

Or, just tweet me your thoughts.

Until then, free Vermont, and long live the UNtied States!

Rob Williams?


Williams is editor and publisher of Vermont Commons: Voices of Independence.

“Stuck” on Eva’s Videos

Since their inception, I have watched and enjoyed Eva Sollberger’s “Stuck in Vermont” video stories. [“Cysts Happen,” January 20] was particularly good, as Eva explained a complicated medical condition/procedure from her own personal perspective.

She intelligently explained ovarian cysts via interviews, graphics and medical footage, all with a touch of humor — and with no self-pity.

Eva accomplished the tricky task of the reporter reporting on herself.

It’s an excellent story that both women and men should watch.

Mike Marion

Towson, Md.

Marion works at WMAR-TV, the ABC affiliate in Baltimore.

Role Model

Thank you so much for the great article on Darren Perron [“Anchor Aweigh,” January 27], and thank you, Darren Perron, for showing the young gay and lesbian residents of the Northeast Kingdom that it is possible to live your life as a gay man with dignity and respect. The Duncan Kilmartins and Nancy Sheltras of the world can make it seem like there is no hope for LGBT persons, but your example stands there to give these persons hope for a bright and productive future. Thank you, Seven Days!

David Horn

St. Johnsbury

Peace, Justice … and Hope

The opening lines in Andy Bromage’s article about Burlington’s Peace and Justice Center managed to convey a sense of desperation that is not entirely justified [“Peace & Justice Center Fights to Survive,” January 20]. True, the need for financial support is acute and immediate. There is never enough support for the work of peace and justice, but PJC’s supporters are confident in the long-term viability of the organization.

Nancy Lynch is an experienced nonprofit executive director with good connections in Vermont. She has a successful record in fundraising and grant writing. She has brought a combination of stability and new energy to the organization, and she has invigorated the staff and invited creative thinking. She has established partnerships with other waterfront businesses to help build commercial traffic to that area.

The organization is dealing with many transitory issues — the economic recession, the need to build awareness of the new store location, and settling into the new cash-flow patterns that have resulted from all the changes. Meanwhile, the work goes on — PJC is just releasing the next phase of its groundbreaking Job Gap Study, staff members are actively working with the legislature and providing education to the public on social and economic justice issues, it is acting as fiscal agent for nearly a dozen small organizations with similar missions, and it is the only statewide presence on antiwar and peace issues. People who step forward now with support for the Peace & Justice Center will help make sure the organization can continue its important work.

Spencer Putnam


Putnam is on the board of the Peace & Justice Center.

Don’t Ignore Gaza

Congratulations to Dan Bolles on being the only Vermont journalist to allude to the Gaza Freedom March [“Soundbites,” January 13]. I was one of 1363 delegates from 43 countries who recently traveled to Cairo with the intention of entering Gaza to march in solidarity with Palestinians against Israel’s criminal three-year siege. It does not speak well of our state’s media that the sole acknowledgment of this historic event in a Vermont newspaper was in a music column.

Though I appreciate the mention, I am obliged to clarify a couple of points: Dan’s column made it seem as if we were attempting to enter Gaza through Israel and were foiled by the Israelis. In fact, entering through Israel was always understood to be impossible and GFM organizers had been negotiating permission from the Egyptian government for months to allow us entry through their border, which was unexpectedly denied only days before the march was scheduled to take place. Therefore, it was the Egyptian authorities with whom we found ourselves in conflict, though anyone who is aware of the power relationship between Egypt, Israel and the U.S. can assume that Egypt was largely acting on U.S.-Israeli orders.

Also, Dan implied that the turnout was far less than expected. Actually, the international turnout exceeded expectations, and many people who wished to register had to be turned away, due to limitations set by the Egyptian government. The vast majority of the marchers would have been Palestinians in Gaza, though most groups in Gaza ultimately boycotted the march when it became clear that they would be alone. Details aside, if a music writer can devote two paragraphs to casting light on one of the most shameful crimes in the world today, “serious” journalists should be able to do at least as much.

David Symons


First Responders…

Lots of readers — including EMTs and paramedics from all over the state — had reactions to our January 20 story entitled, “Paramedic on Board? Not in Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle Counties.”

I was interested to read your critique of the paramedics system in northern Vermont. My son was about 18 months old when, while visiting friends in Poultney, he had a serious seizure that compromised his breathing and which went on for about 30 minutes. When we called the ambulance, the EMTs who responded couldn’t treat children under the age of 14. They couldn’t administer oxygen except by blow-by, they couldn’t give any medication including Tylenol and Advil (which as a parent I could normally give, but because we were technically under their care I couldn’t), and they couldn’t even take a temperature.

Yes, we were met en route to the hospital by someone with greater expertise. It was about 30 minutes after we had been on the road, 45 minutes from when we had called 911, and necessitated stopping the ambulance and allowing everyone to get out and climb on board. Fortunately, by that time he had stopped seizing (probably as a result of the emergency medications that I carry and had given him before the paramedics arrived).

I agree that not having paramedics, especially in rural Vermont, is a concern, but think you might also want to focus on whether responders have the basic training and equipment to be able to treat any member of the community who needs medical attention.

Meg Baker


I have been a paramedic for 32 years. We have always known that the major benefit of paramedics is not in “saving lives,” as portrayed on TV. Most EMS patients will reach the hospital alive, no matter the level of care. True “saves” — where the patient would clearly have died without paramedic intervention — are rare.

But paramedics do routinely make a major impact in at least three clinical areas. First, pain relief. This article hits that on the head. Ambulances are trucks — the rides are bumpy and pain is aggravated. Patients suffer as a result. Paramedics make a difference.

Second, breathing relief. We have several options to help someone breathe easier. When you are fighting to breathe, even a short ambulance ride seems too long. Paramedics make a difference.

Third, cardiac arrhythmias. Not the kind that will necessarily kill you — the kind that drop your blood pressure to dangerous levels, make you feel faint, or affect your breathing. When you are on the verge of passing out and afraid that you are dying, a 20-minute ambulance ride is a very long ride. Paramedics make a difference.

But the most important area where paramedics make a difference is safety. A nonparamedic crew with any of the above scenarios must replace scene treatment with speed. A lights-and-sirens transport endangers the patient, attendants and other drivers. By treating on the scene, the urgency is gone and a safer transport results. Those are the true “lives saved” by paramedics.

Steve Hazelton


This issue is far more complicated by politics than Dr. Leffler’s excuse of “cost.” In an ideal world, Vermont EMT-I’s would be allowed to practice at the National Registry level, adding significant skills to their scope of practice. Instead, the Vermont Health Department continues to hamstring the local EMT-I by parceling out allowed field skills they deem to be appropriate and withholding others, even though those skills have been in practice in other states for years. It is most interesting to note that paramedics are allowed to practice in Vermont at all, an apparent nod to the fact that their skills aren’t so useless. Even more interesting is that, while continuing education, testing and re-certification by the State of Vermont every two years is mandatory for the EMT-I, paramedics obtain theirs alone and are not retested by the state, and have virtually no oversight other than the continuing-education credits they must submit. So much for that stated concern of rusty skills.

Is intubation a necessary field skill? I say yes, in an ambulance with two crew members, one of whom is the driver. Control of an airway, and vented by machine, leaves the medic one less thing to manage, and frees him or her to continue other lifesaving measures. Even during short transports, minutes count, and lifesaving interventions in the field are far more important than a doctor’s easily bruised ego.

Christopher Maloney


Maloney has been an EMT for more than 18 years, 12 of them for the town of Barre.

Being a paramedic in Vermont, I am sickened by the words of Dr. Leffler. “There is no improvement in survival going from well-trained EMT-Is, which is what we have now, to paramedics.” This statement is completely incorrect. Paramedics have the ability to perform some of the same lifesaving procedures as physicians in the emergency department (ED), but without a potentially lethal delay. Interventions such as intubation, needle thoracotomy, surgical cricothyrotomy, cardiac pacing, cardioversion, medication administration and many, many more.

I have worked for Fletcher Allen Health Care for almost eight years, and in that time I have seen many examples of this. Most notably, on two separate occasions small children were brought to the ED by ambulance after choking on grapes. The EMT-I’s were unable to dislodge the grape with basic techniques. Upon arrival to the ED, the grapes were removed with direct laryngoscopy, a paramedic-level skill, but in both cases it was too late, and the children died. Their deaths were completely unnecessary and could potentially have been avoided had the ambulance been staffed with a paramedic. This is just one of many examples that I can list, but it is one I can relate to as a father of a 2-year-old. If he chokes, I want a paramedic.

In no way am I saying that paramedics will cure all ills and make everyone better in a short ambulance ride; what I am saying is that, in the most critical times, paramedics do save lives.

Jeff Patterson


I am an EMT Basic and the president of South Hero Rescue. This article contains omissions about the care that can be administered by EMT-Bs and Is. In addition to what is mentioned, Bs can use semi-automatic defibrillators to treat cardiac arrest. They can also assist patients in taking nitroglycerin, epinephrine or an inhaler that has been prescribed to them. Is can request permission to give nitro and epi as well as a handful of other medications to patients who do not have prescriptions. I know I’m splitting hairs here, but I feel it is important for all the facts to be known in decision-making processes. Incidentally, I have not made a decision one way or the other about paramedic-level care. I do think it bears careful consideration given the research; [so does] how to fit the level of care into VT’s current EMS organization.

Will Warren

South Hero


The sharp editor eyes at the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus and Rutland Herald immediately noticed an error in last week’s cover story, “We’ve Got News For You.” In the proofreading process, the crucial words “Sunday Magazine” were inexplicably excised from a sentence announcing the demise of the weekly supplement published jointly by the two publications. The resulting sentence suggested that the Times Argus and Rutland Herald had folded. We regret the embarrassing mistake.

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