When Wiscasset Speedway needs someone taken to a hospital, that can tie up a Wiscasset ambulance about four hours and cost the town $800 for any mutual aid, Emergency Medical Services Director Erin Bean told selectmen Oct. 4.
In the meeting at the town office and on Zoom and YouTube, Bean raised the issue in a public hearing on Vanessa and Richard Jordan’s yearly special amusement permit renewal for the speedway at 274 West Alna Road. Vanessa Jordan said she had no idea the town is paying for mutual aid now. “We are very open to conversations about how to make this work.”
Officials said due to staffing crunches, Wiscasset EMS and other ambulance services have started charging one another for mutual aid ambulance calls.
According to the Jordans’ application, the speedway’s insurer requires emergency medical technicians on-site for racing. Area ambulance services are called “to provide further evaluation, care and/or transport when needed,” it states. Bean said Wiscasset has to take those patients to Maine Medical Center in Portland.
She said the need to respond to Wiscasset Speedway has gone from a couple times a season to seven times recently. “It’s become a pretty big onus on us.”
“I think it’s great that we have this (speedway) in our town, and it’s wonderful. However, I think they need to figure out a different situation ...”
For two reasons, there is not “a straight-up, easy solution,” Town Manager Dennis Simmons said: If the track hired an ambulance, when it leaves with a patient, Wiscasset would still get called or racing would halt until the track ambulance returns; and the speedway is part of the town, so the town has to, and wants to, serve it, he said.
“The cost part of it I think is ... a discussion that we need to have with them, because I don’t feel we should have to pay $800 for (another ambulance service) to come over here,” Simmons told the board. “I think Erin’s concerns are valid ... I don’t think this should be a reason to hold up their license, but I think this is a serious discussion that does really need to be had.”
Selectmen agreed 5-0 to renew the permit.
In a phone interview Oct. 5, Vanessa Jordan said about the number of ambulance calls Bean cited, “it has just been an odd year, in my opinion.” Jordan noted Beech Ridge Speedway’s closing meant more race car teams this season at Wiscasset Speedway and others. She said some races had more cars and some drivers had less experience, or less experience at the track known as Maine’s fastest. And with the town now paying for mutual aid, “I understand the concerns.” As always, the speedway will work with the town, Jordan said.
Also Oct. 4, Simmons said in nearly 20 years working in emergency medical services, he has seen countless strokes, but never in a 12-year-old. It is not unheard of but it is very rare, and it happened to Wiscasset Elementary School teacher Samantha Crawford’s daughter Angelina, Simmons said. He announced the recent Dancing on the Dock event the town and Water Street Kitchen & Bar organized raised $1,220 for the family. Katie Ruzyckij accepted the donation on Crawford’s behalf. Principal Kathleen Pastore said in an email response Oct. 5, Ruzyckij, a WES secretary, is one of Crawford’s closest friends on the school staff.
The board accepted with regret Katharine Martin-Savage’s resignation from the budget committee due to health concerns. And Selectmen’s Chair Sarah Whitfield read aloud the police department’s thank you letter for the town’s recent employee appreciation dinner. Selectman Terry Heller called for it to continue annually, and said Whitfield cooks a mean burger. “I don’t know about that,” Whitfield responded.
“I don’t think that’s what I said that night,” Simmons said, spurring group laughter that continued as the comments did.
“It’s not,” Whitfield concurred.
“We did have an ambulance standing by,” Selectman William “Bill” Maloney said, then smiled.
“No good deed –,” Whitfield said.