ATTLEBORO — City Councilor Todd Kobus, who was blasted by the mayor for taking a suicidal man to the hospital from a private cooling station last month instead of calling 9-1-1, got overwhelming support from readers on The Sun Chronicle’s Facebook page.
Out of 51 people who posted opinions on the matter by 3:30 p.m. Monday, all but one backed Kobus, a first term councilor.
One man, Kenneth Cabral took a shot at Mayor Paul Heroux.
“Paul, stop picking fights. He did what his heart told him to do. Furthermore, the individual involved may have resisted police or ambulance involvement,” he said.
“When someone is in a suicidal state they are not thinking rationally. Kobus did the right thing.”
A woman, Kerri LaPalme April, agreed.
“Thank you for being a good human. I’m so sorry our Mayor is acting this was over such a tremendous deed,” she said. “You did the right thing and should be acknowledged for it properly.”
Most of the other comments were in the same vein.
On Monday, Heroux said he may have done exactly what Kobus did, had he not been educated by the fire department about the dangers of tackling an emergency on one’s own.
Last week he lambasted Kobus for “negligence” and opening the city to legal “liability,” even though he was taking the man from a private cooling station.
However, the cooling station, located at LaSalette Shrine, may have had the appearance of a city-sponsored facility because at least four councilors pushed to have it opened on the very hot and humid weekend of July 20 and 21 when “feel-like” temperatures were over 100 degrees.
Meanwhile, fire chief Scott Lachance said Monday he gives Kobus the “benefit of the doubt” for his actions and that what he did was “admirable,” but added that the best way to handle any emergency, psychological or medical, is by calling 9-1-1 and allowing highly trained paramedics to handle the situation.
“I would really, really hate for the general public to think that it’s wise for them to take someone to the hospital in a psychological or medical emergency,” Lachance said. “If it’s really an emergency they should call 9-1-1. There are things that can happen on the way to the hospital a person is not prepared for.”
For example, Lachance said in his first year as a paramedic a suicidal patient tried to jump out of the ambulance in which he was riding.
Patients can have cardiac arrests or other issues that paramedics are trained to handle, he said.
“It’s not just Todd, other people do that,” the chief said of personally transporting someone to the hospital. “It’s not in the best interests of the patient.”
Kobus said he appreciated the support he got, but he never wanted the matter to be public.
“I read all of the comments online and am genuinely touched by the support, but this isn’t anything I wanted to be made public,” Kobus said in an email to The Sun Chronicle. “This was a private matter and something I’m sure others deal with on a regular basis. If I’m going to use this opportunity to say anything, it is simply to encourage people to not be afraid to ask for help. People are generally good natured and genuinely care.”