August 2, 2013
Today sometime before 3PM, Ellette Jackson, EMS Director was fired. Mr. Jackson didn’t have a chance in Jasper County. While the last BOC was still in office, Jarrett Slocumb had told many of the EMT’s and firefighters that he would be the next EMS Director and that Lorri Smith would appoint him to be such. Being that he was not qualified for the position made no difference. He was supposedly promised the job by the new BOC as soon as they were in office.
When it did not happen the way he hoped, numerous things started happening, including having his long time mentor’s wife, Sabrina Westbrook, pressure the BOC with the usual threat of everyone was going to quit. She sent the following email to the BOC (this was obtained through open records request):
From: EDWARD WESTBROOK <email@example.com>
Date: February 1, 2013 11:02:27 PM GMT-04:00
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Subject: Fw: Needs Fixin Fast
Bruce, I had a lengthy email written out for you then scrapped it to say only this. There is a BIG problem with the new Emergency Services Director Ellette Jackson. There is an EASY FIX for it (or part of it anyway). The man should not be in charge of Chief Slocumb and the Fire Services. Period. He is not a Firefighter. He is giving directives to take Chief Slocumb away from being available to respond as he was hired to do (example being that beginning next week Chief Slocumb is to begin working a 24 hour shift on an ambulance as EMT, thus leaving him available for his duties as County Fire Chief only two days a week.). Chief Slocumb has worked very hard to keep the Fire Services where we are today. That is a full time job. Perhaps Mr. Jackson can manage EMS, but Chief Slocumb is the County Fire Chief and should be considered a Department Head answering directly to the County Manager. The morale of the Fire Department is very low due to the numerous issues that are arising since Mr. Jackson was hired – issues concerning professionalism, firefighter safety, equipment, future grant monies and past grant monies, training and reporting records. I have one question – is the current Board of Commissioners willing to lose Chief Slocumb AND its 50 volunteer firefighters ??? That is exactly where this is heading in a rapid spin. I hope and pray that this issue will be in the forefront at the next Board of Commissioners meeting. Thank you for your time and for your willingness to serve in the capacity of Commissioner.
Chief Sabrina Westbrook, Jasper County Fire Services, Station 2, Shady Dale
The “fix” has been in to terminate Mr. Jackson since almost the day he was hired. The dissention between Fire and EMS has been perpetuated with Chief Slocumb’s full participation, and the BOC via their county managers (Smith and Robinson) have continued to condone it.
Sources tell us that yesterday, EMT’s from Station 3, where Chief Slocumb has his office, were allowed to parade through the BOC office and tell of their complaints about Mr. Jackson to the new County Manager. No one from Station 1 was called in and asked anything. Mr. Jackson was not given the opportunity to defend himself when he was called in, but was told he was fired for not giving the EMT’s training.
We will be watching to see now that Jarrett Slocumb is “over EMS” (with what qualifications?) if EMT’s and Firefighters now start their push to keep the service local. Up until this time EMT’s were told by the previous interim County Manager Robinson that the BOC said they could not speak about privatization.
It is interesting that Comm. Carl Pennamon was on his way out of the BOC office when Mr. Jackson was on his way in. Comm. Pennamon was also in Sharon Robinson’s office Wednesday afternoon along with Jan Gaston, hospital administrator, before the EMS committee meeting started.
Both Comm. Pennamon and Jan Gaston have long promoted privatization. Terminating the EMS Director is just one step closer to doing so.