George Oldroyd deserves your respect

When you write about Mr. Oldroyd, you should probably provide a little better context about his expertise in managing emergency services. He’s not some local politician. Captain Oldroyd spent over forty years in volunteer and professional fire departments and was one of the people responsible for converting ambulances services from the old horizontal taxi model to the advent of Emergency Medical Technicians in the 70’s. He’s taught at the National Fire Academy at the University of Maryland and spent time seconded to the Department of Transportation (that established protocols for prehospital care under the Emergency Medical Services system) and to FEMA, where he was responsible for significantly upgrading this country’s ability to handle hazardous materials response at the municipal level.

If you just totaled the number of lives he saved strictly with his intellect, you’d get into unfathomable numbers, but he’s done decades of crawling through the burning buildings and taught enough firefighters their craft to staff half of South Carolina.

He has the scars to prove it. Can your legislators demonstrate that level of commitment to their constituents or are they too busy cashing lobbyists’ checks to get their hands dirty?

He taught me. I was one of his EMT students, and I’ve been there for a few folks in crisis who have Captain Oldroyd’s innovation and tutelage to thank for their very survival. Now multiply that number by every EMT he’s prepared, and every firefighter he’s instructed, and think about the value of having a man like that stewarding your fire department.

He did almost every job there is for a fire officer to do in a fire department: training officer, communications officer, platoon captain, fire marshal, and the reason he wasn’t a fire chief isn’t because he wasn’t extremely well-qualified. He didn’t have many professional peers.

He didn’t get to be chief because he didn’t play ball with politicians and bureaucrats when it would have meant exposing people to risk. He led his Captains back into the union, which ought to make it plain how committed he is to his firefighters, because it cost him dearly, but his resume was just one more thing he sacrificed to keep people safe. He put other people’s lives above everything, including his own, and he did it almost every day of his working life.

And he volunteered on his days off.

I think your piece on the referendum makes it sound like he was just some bean counter stonewalling your valiant legislators, but your lawmakers are doing a lovely job taking a cheap victory lap by scapegoating the man, who’s literal only interest is saving lives, not serving some political agenda or getting his name in the paper.

Captain Oldroyd is a lifelong hero who deserves a lot more respect than he’s getting, for spending his retirement helping his community adapt to its ongoing growth and saving the lives of people who would otherwise be left behind. I certainly hope your newspaper will be there to report on the lives that are lost when the needed ambulances aren’t there on time, what with the existing service stretched thin already in a growing community of retirees, all because a gaggle of local politicians want to act like they’re tough on taxes.

Maybe you disagree with him, but you ought to show the man some respect. I don’t know many people who have been as effective and as committed to the public good as George Oldroyd.

I’ll be shocked if you bother to publish this perspective.


Roger Goodledy

Union, Connecticut