After reading Patrick Warren’s story in the Argus this weekend, I got the feeling that the city is making excuses or in denial about how they treat their employees with mental illness. It seems if someone’s behavior is interrupting city business, instead of trying to determine what is going on, they fire the person.

Patrick contacted me several months ago about his story, and after talking to him for over 2 1/2 hours, I decided to pass his story on to John Hult, I felt John would do a better job of telling the story. And I am impressed.

There are some things missing from the story, that eventually I would love to delve into, a lot of it stems from some of the actions of the current police chief and his relationship with the union president for the firefighters.

Patricks’s story about recognizing mental illness in employees is just the tip of the iceberg of what is going on behind the scenes at the Fire Department.

As we all may or may not know, ambulance service for the city of Sioux Falls is provided by Paramedics Plus (including non-emergency transfers) and county service is provided by Med-Star. Which is fine, because having two companies providing service in the area is good for a back up plan in case of a major natural disaster, or other instances.

I was told on Friday (still checking to verify information)  that if Med-Star (the county provider) can’t provide immediate service in their service area, Paramedics Plus can assist.

But what is confusing is why can’t Med-Star be allowed to assist Paramedics Plus in the city limits if they need assistance? Or can they?

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Mayor Huether seems to be confused tonight at the council meeting about how to stack a pile of firewood

Minnehaha County treasurer Pam Nelson showed up tonight to explain to the city how to mail out proper notice in the mail for a code violation (you know, using a postman and a stamp and not a newspaper bag). Pam got a notice about her firewood stack, but instead of sending a letter to her office or ACTUAL home, they put a letter in a plastic newspaper bag and hung it to her secondary residence. Seems efficient.

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Then Bob Kolbe showed up asking how private emergency for-profit services can be cheaper then city owned services. Well, Bob, have you seen the Fire Department salaries (DOC: 2015-Wages-January, Start on page 4)

While the city does physical evaluations of our firefighters, you wonder if there is any ‘mental’ evaluations? (Item #1)

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I have been told “Fitness assessments” listed are part of the firefighter’s labor agreement where they are required to annually participate in a non-punitive assessment of their fitness. It includes tests like body fat measuring, BMI, push-ups, and cardiovascular fitness, etc. This was in place before the annual incumbent physical agility test (IPAT) was being used, so it seems unneeded (the IPAT annually shows the employee’s ability to perform essential job tasks) except it mentions behavioral health and then mental health on the program link, which IPAT doesn’t cover.

An overview of the program can be found here:

http://www.iaff.org/hs/Well/index.htm

There’s only been one scientific study done nationally (by Chicago Fire) and their results showed that the suicide rates for firefighters are 5x the national average.

So was anyone at this sentencing or have access to a transcript?

A former Sioux Falls city fire official won’t serve jail time for unlawfully accessing the fire chief’s email account.

A judge on Monday sentenced Patrick Warren to three years of supervised probation and 100 hours of community service.

He pleaded guilty in December to unlawful use of a computer and in exchange, prosecutors dropped 14 other counts against the former division chief.

Warren looked at Fire Chief Jim Sideras’ email account and saw confidential messages between Sideras and Sioux Falls Police Chief Doug Barthel.

Still curious why he was doing this and if he acted alone. Seems shady.