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Dalton Fire Chief suspended pending investigation

by Tara Giles
Sports reporter - Coos County Democrat and Berlin Reporter
June 20, 2019
DALTON — Dalton Fire Chief Ron Sheltry has been suspended pending allegations that he told his crew to stand down after being dispatched to the home of Kathy and Ted Barden on French Road in Dalton in early May.

Apparently, Sheltry, along with his wife Carol (a Dalton Selectman) and one other EMT, responded to the residence. While en route, dispatch relayed to Sheltry that the homeowner, Ted Barden, did not want Sheltry or his wife on his property. Sheltry then radioed back to say that the three unit (a unit is a person) crew would be standing down. The third EMT chose to wait until Whitefield Rescue could arrive as the driveway is long and there was only one vehicle at the time. Further, the EMT was not told by Sheltry to stand down and made his decision on his own.

Ted Barden was apparently having trouble breathing, and was on his floor when the crew from Whitefield responded.

John Ross, Whitefield's Fire Chief, said, "It took our volunteers 14 minutes to reach the station after the tone went out. After we arrived on scene, it took us 17 minutes to bring the patient into the ambulance for transport."

Ross said that Sheltry did not tell his crew to stand down, and in fact told them to keep coming.

On the audio of the 911 call, Sheltry was asked by Whitefield if they should stand down due to the confusion over the radio, at which point Sheltry insists that they stay en route.

At a May 20 selectmen's meeting in Dalton, Sheltry was not re-appointed as Chief. According to the meeting minutes, board member Jo Beth Dudley asked Carol Sheltry to recuse herself. Dudley signed the appointment; however, fellow board member Anna Gilbody did not, stating that she lacks the confidence in Sheltry as chief and said that she could not, in good conscience, sign the paperwork based on an incident with a town resident.

Kathy Barden, a former select board member in Dalton, and former friend of the Sheltrys, said, "I had an issue with the Dalton Rescue Squad not responding to my house while I was at work with my multi handicapped husband on the floor barely responsive."

Longtime Dalton resident Jennifer Green came to the defense of Sheltry, and said, "Ron Sheltry is a consummate professional and solid leader in any crisis situation who has provided unwavering dedicated service to our town for over 10 years. He is the founder of the Dalton Fire and Rescue and winner of Firefighter of the year for NH in 2013."

Green added, "It is a democratic abomination that a member of our select board can refuse appointment of our fire department chief with a stellar record because she 'lacks confidence' in Chief Sheltry. I've been a resident of the town of Dalton for over 30 years and find this political sniveling disgusting. Because of one woman's lack of confidence the entire towns emergency services is without the well educated and experienced leadership of this man placing us all in a precarious and weaker safety position."

Green went on to say, "It is my hope that the towns people, the voters of Dalton will remember that every voter is a legislator and that there is no higher authority. That a petition will be brought by at least 50 voters demanding a special town meeting which must be called under RSA 39:1 to direct that the select person consider the will of the people and reinstate Chief Sheltry. The Chief must know that the townspeople support him and stand behind him and his service to our town. We have not lost faith in our Chief. I have however no faith in Ms. Gilbody and her ability to reason without prejudice, something the town people should consider gravely."

Currently, the incident is under investigation by the state.

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Varney Smith
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