Signals AZ

Retirement of Patty Brookins – The Chief’s Desk

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Just prior to starting the draft of this week’s edition, I signed the retirement payroll action form (PAF) for HR Manager Patty Brookins. By the time you receive this Friday morning, Patty will have completed her last day with us and ridden off into the sunset with her best boyfriend forever – Bill. Definitely not gone forever, but she no longer has to show up to work and tolerate all of us.

CAFMA, From the Chief, Chief Scott Freitag, Chiefs Desk, retirement, patty brookins

This is the first time in my career that I’ve had the opportunity to work with a real Human Resources Manager. I must say, it’s certainly been a privilege to have Patty in that position. She has served as friend, mentor, mom, and disciplinarian (when necessary) for everyone at CAFMA.

Between Bill and Patty, we had volunteer coordinators, a photographer, Firefighter Angel Foundation volunteers, and most importantly – the BEST Santa and Mrs. Claus ever! I hope they will continue to come back and revive their Christmas roles with us. Really, Christmas in the valley is nothing like Christmas in the Quad Cities, and they now live in a retirement community so there are no kids. So, yeah, they’re going to have to come back up to participate – it’s really the only option.

Those of us that were here remember the valiant battle Patty fought and won against breast cancer. I still have the picture in my desk of her and I with our arms around each other after she shaved my head. As an aside, my head is oddly-shaped so bald really didn’t wear well for me.

That said, it seems nature may have its way and I will be bald sooner than I’d like – thanks for pointing that out Duplessis. As a family, we rallied around Patty and Bill as they waged their war against cancer. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve seen, and yet, not unexpected from the members of CAFMA.

If I remember correctly, the first time Patty and I met was at the Captain’s Academy right after I moved to Arizona. I’d been asked to give a presentation on leadership and she happened to be there. It’s funny, because after I was done presenting she asked if I would come over and be the chief of CYFD. Seemed an impossibility at the time, but here we are.

We certainly worked through some interesting times together. From personnel challenges to combining Chino and Central into CAFMA, Patty was always present and engaged. Did we always agree? Nope, not quite. However, we did manage to work through things together in the best interest of our members, as well as the organization.

With that, Patty, I wish you a fond farewell and an open invitation to stop by any CAFMA facility whenever you see fit. You helped make us what we are today, and set us on the right path for the future. You will certainly be missed, but I know this is the right time for you and Bill. I mean honestly, we all know he could use a bit more adult supervision 😊 It’s a husband thing…

This week’s CAFMA Connect will feature me and Patty discussing her time with CAFMA as well as her plans for retirement. It should be a good time with, I would assume, lots of laughs.

So, what does this mean for the rest of us? Lacie and Karen, along with Tharp and I, will handle HR stuff until we hire our next HR manager. As you know, we hired an executive recruiting firm to undertake a nationwide search – which is active as we speak. The posting will close on May 22 and will be followed by the recruiting firm assessing resumes and conducting initial interviews.

Final on-site interviews will be held at Administration in June. We are planning to have four interview panels. One will include managers, one will include Ops and Non-Ops line personnel, one will be a panel of community leaders, and one will be with Senior Staff. With any luck, we hope to have a new manager in place sometime in late July or early August. Sooner would be better, but these things take time and it is important we do it right. I mean, hire the wrong HR Manager and eventually, we end up in some sort of legal trouble… HR keeps us in line – especially Tharp.

In other news, my schedule this week was slightly hijacked, but for a good cause. I spent Monday and Tuesday in Phoenix at the Capitol. We circulated the final amendments for the ambulance licensing bill and visited with several key Republican and Democratic Senators as well as Senate staff from both sides of the aisle.

AMR has expressed a few concerns regarding language that clarifies our ability to transport when necessary, as well as with adding fire agencies to the temporary authority provision in the statute. Their arguments are weak and without merit. To that end, I’m hoping we can move the bill forward with the amendments intact to Rules next week, and then on to the Committee of the Whole. Once it passes third read in the Senate, it will be sent back to the House for Representative Burgess to approve. As soon as she gives final approval to the Senate amendments, it will go to the floor of the House for final approval before being sent to the Governor.

As much as I dislike sitting in a room with AMR, I will say that the overall bill is better for all the meetings we had to endure. Wait, hear me out. With all of the players at the table, we were able to avoid a few unintended consequences, make some clarifications, and add additional language to ensure we covered what we wanted to cover.

In the end, neither side is extremely happy. We pulled a couple of things out that caused AMR heartburn, but we also left some stuff in that AMR didn’t like. Thankfully, we had the AZ Ambulance Association and Priority Ambulance at the table, along with the AFCA and AFDA, as we worked through the process. Priority had some really good insight and offered a lot of guidance to ensure we had a good bill.

Having Representative Burgess as our sponsor and President Fann pushing the bill on the senate side has been a significant help! Without their efforts, and them pushing back on AMR, the bill would have stalled. It’s always best to have good people in the right places on your side. Relationships…….

It’s interesting talking to the elected officials at the State regarding ambulance issues and the certificate of necessity (CON) process. The facial expressions and body language of those folks as we countered what AMR and their lobbyists had to offer has been priceless. In reality, everyone has known this statute needed to change for decades. However, AMR and their predecessors had done yeomen’s work to protect their profits in lieu of protecting the public.

I think the tide is beginning to shift as more and more communities, fire agencies, hospitals, and other care facilities start voicing their concerns as a collective. You can push us aside and dismiss us when we work in silos, but we are hard to beat when we are together. In the end, it takes a village to seek ambulance reform in our state. Hopefully, this helps us move the needle in a positive direction!

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