State FOI Commission agrees with hearing officer; Greenwich EMS a public agency

GREENWICH — Greenwich Emergency Medical Services is subject to the same open records requirements as a governmental agency, the state has ruled.

The state’s Freedom of Information Commission last week agreed with a hearing officer that the agency’s attempt to overturn a 1988 ruling that it was subject to FOI regulations was not supported by the facts.

“I’m very happy that the FOIC unanimously voted to accept the hearing officers’ final report,” said GEMS’ former Director of Operations Joseph Soto, who was terminated from his position in April 2016 and had been seeking documents from the agency.

“The hearing officer provided an accurate and detailed report that orders GEMS to provide me all of the documents that I requested back on Dec. 8, 2016. The information that I requested was not unreasonable and should have been provided upon request.”

Officials from the emergency services agency said they would comply with the ruling.

“With or without this decision, we remain committed to being as responsive and transparent as possible to the town” and its governing agencies “subject to our obligations to our patients under HIPAA, and to our employees under the Personnel Privacy Act,” said GEMS Board of Directors Chairman Jennifer Baldock.

The debate that sparked the ruling centered around Soto’s termination.

Under GEMS regulations, a terminated employee has the right to have their termination appealed to the board of directors. GEMS’ board has insisted that Soto’s termination was considered and upheld, but he claims the meeting never took place and is seeking proof in documents that it did.

GEMS had argued that it had provided all required information to Soto and did not need to provide any more documents because it was not a public agency, but rather an independent nonprofit that operates as a town contractor; the money it receives in the town budget is the fee for its services.

But last month, Freedom of Information…

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