New Richmond County EMS coordinator begins her job

Fire chief says former firefighter will help department 'move forward'

EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
La Shon Polk is Richmond County's new EMS coordinator.
Monday, May 7, 2012 7:22 PM
Last updated Tuesday, May 8, 2012 10:32 PM
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La Shon Polk is Richmond County's EMS coordinator. She said she wants to help the department become "a leader in the Southeast."  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
La Shon Polk is Richmond County's EMS coordinator. She said she wants to help the department become "a leader in the Southeast."

Last Monday began a new chapter in La Shon Polk’s life. It was her first day as Augusta-Richmond County’s EMS coordinator.

Polk, 46, who left a career with an entertainment firm to become a firefighter, spent the past 10 years as a firefighter, acting captain and backup apparatus driver with the Fulton County Fire and Rescue Department in metro Atlanta. The decision to take an administrative role was not easy.

“I’m a firefighter,” said the Los Angeles native, who decided to become a firefighter after she dreamt one night of being one. “I really love fighting fire.”

The 14-year fire veteran applied for the Augusta job after determining how involved she would be in helping make the fire department a leader in emergency first response.

“I am a grant writer,” she said. “I think I can find us some money to do some new things. It is a great opportunity to make this department a leader in the Southeast.”

The EMS coordinator position was last held by Matthew Paynter, who left the department a few months ago and now works for Gold Cross.

“Her enthusiasm for the community was what really stood out,” Fire Chief Chris James said. “I think she is the best person to help us move forward.”

James said 58 percent of the department’s calls last year were first responses.

“For years and years most of our calls were fire-related,” he said. “Now there are a lot for first responders. Her position will help us maintain our certifications and qualifications on the EMS side of the department.”

Polk said she spent the past 10 years watching people be promoted around her even though she took every class she could find. She said James asked for a copy of each of her certifications, which now fill a 3-inch, three-ring binder. They include everything from SWAT training to Spanish for public safety.

“I told him I would need a day,” she said.

Another part of her past is an arrest in September 2004 in Cobb County on charges of cruelty to children and family battery. She said her then 15-year-old son had gone from a straight-A student with a scholarship to Georgia Tech to shoplifting and ditching school in less than eight months.

She said she spanked him one night and he called the police, telling them she had hit him with an object. The charges were dropped after police failed to find a weapon. Polk said she has a close relationship with her son and her three grandchildren now. The family is thinking of moving to Augusta.

“I never let that hold me back,” she said.

James said he was not aware of the arrest because the charges were dropped, meaning it would not show up on a background check. He said it does not change his mind about Polk’s ability to do the job.

“She was the most qualified through the interview process,” he said.

Through the years, Polk has developed a network of fire managers around the country. She said she will look to them for suggestions on how to move the department forward.

When asked about putting SUVs into service for first responder calls, she said she knows some departments that use and love them and some that do not.

“This isn’t your grandfather’s fire department,” she said. “We do more than fight fire. We are responsible for being first on the scene and saving lives. My job is to find the best way to do that.”

This job represents two things for Polk. It is validation for all the years of spending nights and weekends in classes, and it is a chance to take on a new challenge she feels passionate about.

“I am here to ensure, first and foremost, the citizens of Augusta receive the highest standard of pre-hospital care,” she said. “I am going to make sure the 325 men and women are competent, and confident, in our EMS service.”

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dichotomy
37614
Points
dichotomy 05/08/12 - 07:52 am
2
0
Charged With Cruelty To Children ?

Is this the same Lashon Lanitta Polk who was born in California and, in 2004 at the age of 38, was arrested in Fairburn, GA for Cruelty To Children. They didn't put that in her resume.

http://georgia.arrests.org/Arrests/Lashon_Polk_6013757/

"Yes joining the Firefighter’s ABC’s Online Internship Program is worth your time and the effort placed in completing your monthly task will one day pay off."
La Shon Polk
Firefighter Paramedic
Fulton County Fire Dept. - Atlanta

Yes La Shon (Lashon), I'd say those online programs paid off. Are you still going to keep your side job with Paramedical Consulting Services LLC?

I don't know Chief. Hope you saw something I didn't

my.voice
5180
Points
my.voice 05/08/12 - 09:38 am
0
1
Good luck Ms Polk!

Good luck Ms Polk!

raul
5778
Points
raul 05/08/12 - 10:36 am
1
0
EMS Coordinator

I take it this is a position internal to the Fire Dept. As I recall an Emergency Management Director position was approved by Deke. Is that position under recruitment?

Sean Moores
702
Points
Sean Moores 05/08/12 - 10:00 am
0
0
Dichotomy link

We checked with the Clerk of Courts for Cobb County. This is the same La Shon Polk. She was arrested, but she was not prosecuted for this.

TCB22
694
Points
TCB22 05/08/12 - 11:39 am
0
0
Oh, my. :(

Oh, my. :(

dichotomy
37614
Points
dichotomy 05/08/12 - 12:12 pm
0
0
Full Disclosure

I figured Ms. Polk had not been convicted of anything and possibly not even prosecuted. But with today's access to information it is best to put everything out there, up front, with an explanation, instead of having some jerk like me come along and ask questions that make it look like you are hiding something. However, I am curious if this arrest was listed on her resume and I wonder if disclosure of an arrest on Cruelty To Children would have been a consideration in selection process for anyone else.

texsmoke
139
Points
texsmoke 05/08/12 - 04:21 pm
1
0
Look Closer

Contact the Clerk and ask them what was the outcome Sean. Although she wasn't convicted doesn't mean she didn't commit a crime. She still had to go through a pre-trial diversion program inovling group meetings and counseling before they would not convict her. If you have to go through all of that, then there is more than just being charged. Still guilty of something in my opinion. Something happened. Anyways, what is the purpose of her job here?

Sean Moores
702
Points
Sean Moores 05/08/12 - 04:31 pm
0
0
Texsmoke

We did talk to the Clerk of Courts. They faxed us the arrest information, and the charges were listed as "nolle prosequi." There was no mention of any pre-trial diversion programs. If the Cobb County authorities, who know much more about the case than we do, decided not to prosecute, then I won't allow her to be attacked about it in our comments. Leave it alone please.

texsmoke
139
Points
texsmoke 05/08/12 - 04:39 pm
2
0
I did too

I'm not attacking Mrs. Polk whatsoever Sean. I was curious after your first post so I called them too and they are the ones who told me about the pre-trial stuff. All I did was ask them how she got the nolle prosequi. I am stating nothing but what they told me. You are 100% right though about they didn't convict her because of a reason.

Easywayout
21
Points
Easywayout 05/08/12 - 05:11 pm
3
0
grant writing

Ok I am confused. She is great at finding money. But public records show she filed bankruptcy in California and then again in Georgia and also has an 1,800 dollar lien against her by wells fargo. All this is public records. Good job Chief on the new hire.

Pu239
284
Points
Pu239 05/08/12 - 06:06 pm
0
0
1 800 Board Up
Unpublished

And they thought the 1800 Board Up debacle was big!

janetp
8
Points
janetp 05/08/12 - 10:01 pm
2
0
same ol

Well this seems like a great hire. Is she part of the union because most big unions have a history of criminal and questionable financial backgrounds. If she really has filed banktuptcy twice why is she promoting finding us money. Is she gonna file bankruptcy for the fire department snd then try to restart it

Easywayout
21
Points
Easywayout 05/09/12 - 08:20 am
2
0
article changed

Was this article changed after dichotomy posted that link. If so that is great. Power to the posters.

Just My Opinion
6292
Points
Just My Opinion 05/09/12 - 09:34 am
2
0
Wow! Sure looks like "the

Wow! Sure looks like "the people" have learned how to do some excellent investigative reporting of their own. I'm looking on the bright side of this and hoping that Ms. Polk will do well on her new job. I would ask some pertinent questions, but Sean "Don't Say Anything" Moore might pull my post! Good luck Ms. Polk, and welcome to Augusta!

dichotomy
37614
Points
dichotomy 05/09/12 - 01:51 pm
2
0
The more we learn....

The more we learn the more I think Chief James was looking at something else besides her resume and background check when he hired her. Either that or the county needs to change the way it obtains background checks. I know one thing for sure. If (fill this in yourself) showed up with a couple of bankruptcies and a lien against them I doubt they would have been hired into a position of responsibility. In fact, they would never had even gotten an interview.

FriedFacts
61
Points
FriedFacts 05/09/12 - 02:09 pm
0
0
Bankruptcy is a legal
Unpublished

Bankruptcy is a legal mechanism even though most of us have a distaste for those who take such a way out. What were the dates of it? As far as the Wells Fargo lien, why haven't they demanded monthly payments from her checks? If these things happened a while back, I'd give her a break.

One thing I did notice is she is commenting on matters that I wouldn't think she would be invoved with. Grant writing? Does she have a realistic concept of the job?

dichotomy
37614
Points
dichotomy 05/09/12 - 02:23 pm
2
0
Yes Easyywayout

Yes Easywayout, the article was changed after my post. Wonder if it will change again after the disclosure of the multiple bankruptcies and lien? Not that they are illegal or anything and probably not newworthy but they are an indicator of personal responsibility. A legitimate point of discussion when hiring into a posititon such as this. A book full of online course certificates does not trump real world responsibility and performance. I suspect that Chief James did not dig too deep since she met the prime requirement.

Easywayout
21
Points
Easywayout 05/09/12 - 02:40 pm
2
0
dichotomy

I wonder if he even did a background check. Any decent background checks show arrests, especially if you had to go through a pre trial probation. I agree that she is in a position of authority and can't handle her own finances. So I am vey leary about her trying to be getting money for the department. Im sure we will get some bogus explanation on this too. Police don't just drop charges because they can't find a weapon.

texsmoke
139
Points
texsmoke 05/09/12 - 03:36 pm
2
0
great idea

If Polk has nothing to hide and wants to put it out so we don't question her, she should make her resume and application public. I mean did they even interview anyone else. I think we should be able to see what their credentials were. Maybe post their applications and resumes. Heck leave off names; I'd just like to see what other options Chief James had.

FriedFacts
61
Points
FriedFacts 05/09/12 - 04:15 pm
0
0
Sean Moores said, "We did
Unpublished

Sean Moores said, "We did talk to the Clerk of Courts. They faxed us the arrest information, and the charges were listed as "nolle prosequi." There was no mention of any pre-trial diversion programs. If the Cobb County authorities, who know much more about the case than we do, decided not to prosecute, then I won't allow her to be attacked about it in our comments. Leave it alone please."

I'm a little confused here. The Chronicle obviously thought her arrest was important enough to put it in the article after Dichotomy brought the matter to their attention. So you are not supposed to mention arrests even if they are mentioned in articles? Is this a NEW Chronicle policy?

double_standard
166
Points
double_standard 05/09/12 - 04:43 pm
0
1
I love all the questioning

I love all the questioning and second guessing of Chief James who was very capable of making this decision. I think Sean Moores answered you people when he said she wasn't convicted. If online courses bother you than I think you should check the resumes of some of the other department directors and managers working in the marble palace. If I recalled Donald Trump has filed bankruptcy seven times and you people wanted to be president.

Sweet son
11762
Points
Sweet son 05/09/12 - 06:26 pm
0
0
Only in Richmond County!

The rest of you have already said it! Let's just wait and see what happens. Dysfunctional government at it's best! You guys need to be "sensitive." LOL! Acting Captain and backup driver. Welcome to Augusta!

Easywayout
21
Points
Easywayout 05/09/12 - 06:29 pm
1
0
double standard

As a tax paying citizen of Augusta it is my right to ask questions. She is a government employee now and we must know who is representing every part of our city. And I never said I wanted Donald Trump as president so don't group me into that. I am sorry some of us here have concerns especially after all the corruption that has plagued the fire department for the last year. If more people stood up and held our local officials accountable this would be a much better city.

specsta
7181
Points
specsta 05/09/12 - 06:31 pm
0
3
Casting Stones

It's really a shame that Augusta's new EMS coordinator has to be accused, tried, and convicted via the internet on a newspaper comment page. If you dig deep enough, you can find dirt on ANYONE through public records. Anybody can be arrested at any time for almost anything. Anybody can have a late payment and imperfect credit. Anybody can go on any consumer blog and write lies and rumors about their fellow man or local business and it will be posted without any accusations verified.

So let's give this a rest.

How about we let Ms. Polk do her job and welcome her as a new talent to the area? How about we respect Chief James' decision? We certainly could use some fresh ideas around Augusta.

Easywayout
21
Points
Easywayout 05/09/12 - 07:41 pm
1
1
who cares

I guess we shouldn't care anymore. Just go along with people who will have an impact on our community. I didn't know it was a crime to want an explanation about a very shady past. Maybe she will be a great asset to our city, but as a government official you must be held to a higher standard and if there is nothing to hide then let her explain her past. But thats not how it works in Augusta...we wait until we are screwed over to question

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