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Posted on Wed, Feb 16, 2011 : 2:50 p.m.

Whistleblower lawsuit filed against Chelsea Area Fire Authority

By Lee Higgins

A former Chelsea Area Fire Authority lieutenant alleges in a federal lawsuit that he was demoted for publicly criticizing a superior’s decision to transport a gunshot victim to a hospital in a fire truck.

Matthew W. Rose has filed a lawsuit against the Chelsea Area Fire Authority and Chief Jim Payeur, alleging violations of his right to free speech and of the Michigan Whistleblowers’ Protection Act.

The suit, filed last week in federal court in Detroit, seeks an unspecified amount of money. Payeur declined to comment today, saying he wasn't aware of the lawsuit.

Payeur demoted Rose from lieutenant to firefighter, the suit alleges, after Rose publicly criticized Capt. Chris Smyth's decision on July 18 to take the female victim in the truck to Chelsea Community Hospital. She had been shot in the torso and emergency vehicles were dispatched to meet the private vehicle in which she was traveling, the suit says.

Firefighters reached the victim before an ambulance, according to the lawsuit. Smyth ordered Rose and other firefighters to put the victim in a truck and take her to Chelsea Community Hospital, the suit claims. Rose alleges that firefighters violated Washtenaw/Livingston Medical Control Authority procedure and state law by not ensuring the victim's complete vital signs were taken and she was stable before she was transported.

As a result of the alleged failure to follow protocol, the suit says, the victim was taken to Chelsea Community Hospital, which wasn't equipped to deal with such a patient. Ultimately, the victim was transferred to University of Michigan Hospital, but proper medical care had been delayed by more than 19 minutes, according to the lawsuit. The suit claims an ambulance was nearby when the victim was put in the truck.

Rose alleges Payeur retaliated against him after he voiced his concerns to Smyth, to staff at Chelsea Community Hospital and later to Payeur.

The lawsuit claims Payeur investigated the incident and demoted Rose to firefighter on Nov. 20 and put him on probation. Payeur's decision was partially outlined in a Nov. 9 memo directed, in part, to Rose, the suit says.

"Matt you need to know that a lack of confidence in you on the part of your leadership, skills and abilities had been brought to my attention by several members of this department," the memo says. "There is a feeling out there that you do not have their backs. You lost a lot of credibility over your actions on the Engine Transport, speaking out in public against the actions taken by Captain Smyth. Professionalism, responsibility and maturity would follow the chain of command and in a manner that does not embarrass the department."

Rose resigned Nov. 21, a day after being demoted. He resigned in part, the lawsuit says, because the firefighter position he was demoted to was funded under grant money that could potentially run out.

Rose now works for Huron Valley Ambulance, according to the lawsuit.

Lee Higgins is a reporter for He can be reached by phone at (734) 623-2527 and email at



Thu, Mar 3, 2011 : 7:39 p.m.

I am not going to comment on merits of the law suit. I will say it appears they did violate the medical protocols. The patient should have been transported to the closest Trauma center which is U/M. Based on the article, the patient very well could have been put a further risk by not waiting, transporting in a vehicle that was not designed to transport patients and transporting to the wrong hospital. I would be interested to know what the medical control board thinks about this event and if they are taking any action.


Tue, Feb 22, 2011 : 2:57 a.m.

While M.R. lawsuit against C.A.F.D. may be a difficult one to win, he is correct with the fact that C.A.F.D. violated written protocol and further endangered the patients life by transporting the patient in a fire engine not equipped to properly secure and restrain the patient in the event an accident occurs during transport, they did not verify location of responding HVA unit (which was less tha 1 min from the scene and did indeed pass the engine on the way to Chelsea), and prolonged the patient from reaching definitive care (I.E. Trauma Center) in the shortest possible time for surgical intervention. Capt. C.S., who is a veteran paramedic with HVA, disregarded written protocols and went with what he felt was right instead of doing what he was supposed to do. Its hard for some to understand how this disregard of protocol trumps getting the patient to Chelsa ER but protocols are written for a reason. Chelsea is not equipped nor does it see this type of trauma enough to appropriately manage a patient with this severe of an injury that transport here on further delayed and put the patients life at risk. Patient care was delayed due to Chelsea MD had to do assess, manage what they could before further sending the patient to UM. This wait took almost 20 and the patient could have close to arriving at UM already if CAFD would have waited on the scene with the patient like they were supposed to. I hope this clears up any questions/misconceptions about the stated case.


Sun, Feb 20, 2011 : 7:49 p.m.

The Fire Fighters of Chelsea are a great example to the community. It is sad to see this type of conduct between it's leadership. The fire fighters are here to put out fire's and save people lives, I believe that fire fighter's are more at risk to loose there lives for someone else that they may not know. I think that when your life is on the line. I would care who drove me as long as I got help. I have personal (bad experience with EMS Jackson). I am not going to comment but it was a terrible experience, I myself, trust the fire dept. alot more than I would EMS, Maybe they should make them one unit, there are almost the same, I believe that fire fighter are more flexible and adoptive to saving lives. this is my opinion and I do not know what really happen at Chelsea dept. I just have whole lotta respect for someone who puts there live on the line. Just as our Police do.


Tue, Feb 22, 2011 : 3:07 a.m.

What a horrible opinion.. But that's just my opinion..


Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 3:17 p.m., you missed a key piece of this story. Matt Rose wasn't a Lieutenant with the Chelsea Fire Department until August, how can he be demoted for this when he didn't have that "title"? If this was the reason for his demotion then why would he get promoted after this happened? Start researching these stories before you create turmoil within a community. Now, taxpayers will have to support legal fees for another fictitious lawsuit.


Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 2:46 p.m.

Freedom of speech is not supported by Research this story please! You will find a very different viewpoint by just talking to the current 9 firefighters, I see them a few times a week and this is not a whistle blower story. Chelsea Fire Department employes paramedics that also work for HVA, I'm sure if it was your family shot laying in the street, you would want them to get to the hospital as soon as possible. If HVA was right there and passed the fire truck then why was medical attention delayed for 18 minutes? Any ER can and should be able to stablize a patient. Start reporting the truth and stop attacking our public servants. These guys do so much for all of us but we never know it until we are at our worst.

Cindy Heflin

Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 2:20 p.m.

A personal attack was removed.

zip the cat

Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 1:24 p.m.

Police do it every day(transport people to the hospital)when the ambulance is not available. Good luck winning this


Thu, Mar 3, 2011 : 7:42 p.m.

You watch too many TV shows. It does happen, but, rarely.


Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 12:52 p.m.

Its unfortunate Mr. Rose for his benefit is using this patient's incident for his case. We can assume the patient survived and given the nature of it most likely has suffered much trauma and tragedy to overcome. However, this patient is now has to experience such a lack of insensitivity by Mr. Rose as their incident becomes part of a public forum. The term in "in a truck" I'm certain it was not though the patient was thrown into passing by pick up but respectively a state of the art fully equipped "fire engine". It's also fair to note staffed by Capt. Smyth whom has years of service as a Firefighter and Paramedic. Mr. Roses field experience is? This clearly was about very critical life saving moments that we cannot even begin to speculate what trauma may have unfolded on this particular scene. Further, in recent months Mr. Roses disrespectful underhanded free speech has had residual effects on individuals and their families. The truth will prevail.


Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 12:21 p.m.

Suit sounds ridiculous to me, the guy resigned and knows he made a bad decision. Good Day No Luck Needed

Matt Cooper

Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 4:42 a.m.

scole: Thank you for pointing out how insulting it is for an EMT, be it basic or paramedic, to be referred to as an "ambulance driver". Being formerly an EMT-B myself, I truly appreciate when people have some understanding that the job of professional rescuer, including medics, requires far more than driving an ambulance. Margaret: Are you an EMT-P? Do you have any particular expertice in the ways of emergency medicine? Do you know Mr. Payeur well enough to know what his training and/or licenseing and certifications are? Simply because he's a firefighter doesn't mean he doesn't know what to do or how to handle himself in an emergent situation. I don't know him at all, but I do know that most fire departments nowadays also require their firefighters to be EMT-P's. Finally, if you weren't actually at the scene as the event unfolded, you really don't know what happened. It's easy to sit back and judge the actions of others when you A. potentially don't know what the protocols call for in that particular situation, and B. weren't there to observe what happened and when, nor the severity of the injuries sustained. Hold your judgements until the facts come out.

sir guy

Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 4:25 a.m.

There is more to this story and to Matt Rose that is not being reported. Be careful to label someone a whistleblower when their truth may not be the truth at all. "Man has always sacrificed truth to his vanity, comfort and advantage. He lives by make-believe." - W. Somerset Maugham, The Summing Up, 1938


Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 2:15 a.m.

Good for Mr. Rose being an advocate for the patient and speaking up. That patient needed Paramedics and transport to the closest trauma facility which was U of M. The ambulance was on the way to the call and literally passed the fire truck on the way to Chelsea. Let Mr. Payeur worry about fires, not EMS and even more than that, shame on him for backing up a decision that was totally wrong in the best interest of the patient!


Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 12:11 a.m.

Unfortunately there are still many who have the 1970's and prior view that EMS is only capable of throwing a patient on a stretcher, and driving as fast as possible with lights and sirens blaring. The truth is that modern EMS has many of the capabilities that are available in the emergency room. A person being transported in an ambulance is receiving care during the entire transport, not just lying there. For this reason, the patient would have been transported to the closest appropriate facility, in this case a trauma center (likely U of M) where a 24 hour trauma team could assess the need for stabilization and surgery immediately. This in not a criticism of Chelsea hospital in any way. Their capable staff would likely be the first to know what is appropriate for their facility. FattyJ, you have the right idea, and this is not meant as any disrespect, but by referring to paramedics and EMT's as "people who drive ambulances" you have voiced the view that they are drivers first, caregivers second. Would we refer to firefighters as firetruck drivers? Certainly not. I do understand that this is terminology that is used commonly, and I only use this as an example. And many in the fire service are trained as EMS providers as well, but that was clearly not the case here.


Wed, Feb 16, 2011 : 11:34 p.m.

Jim, it says they violated the state law. People that drive ambulances are better equipped to deal with a person with a gunshot wound than a person who fights fires.

Jim Clarkson

Wed, Feb 16, 2011 : 9:39 p.m.

I am curious, did the trip to the Chelsea hospital put the injured person in danger? How far away was the ambulance when they put her in the firetruck? And would'nt the ambulance have taken her to the nearest hospital also which was the Chelsea hospital?