Wiscasset eyes workaround for ambulance staffing shortage

Tue, 10/05/2021 - 8:45am

    Could Wiscasset be getting a fly car? And what is a fly car? Town Manager Dennis Simmons explained in his manager’s report for selectmen’s Tuesday, Oct. 5 Zoom meeting. He said a fly car could help address Wiscasset Emergency Medical Services’ staffing shortage he told selectmen about last month.

    Nationally and locally, ambulance service is down workers in the pandemic, and vaccination mandates have added to that, Simmons reiterated in the new report.

    At times, the town can only staff an ambulance for basic – rather than advanced – life support, Simmons wrote to the board. “While we are fortunate to have some of the best (emergency medical technicians) EMT’s in the area, we have an aged population and a high acuity level which often requires a higher level of care than basic EMT’s can provide.” Given other ambulance services’ own staffing issues, he doubted the town could do now what it has before in that “rare event” of not having advanced support: Call on another ambulance service for the advanced help.

    Simmons said he and EMS Director Erin Bean have discussed a possible program using a fly car, for an advanced worker to have at home in case the department calls the worker to a scene, or to meet the ambulance en route. That would let Bean schedule a crew of basic support workers without her or the deputy director working more hours, Simmons said.

    He said Maine Yankee has offered to donate $5,000 toward a fly car, and Lincoln County has offered to sell Wiscasset EMS a used cruiser for $2,000. Using a used Wiscasset cruiser instead would mean a wait because a requested new cruiser still awaits voter approval and would then take weeks or months to get on the road, he noted. The county one is available now, “and the need is urgent,” Simmons wrote.

    The county one has a light bar and siren, and the town could use Maine Yankee’s other $3,000 for emergency medical equipment to have with the car, he continued.

    Asked for comment via email Tuesday on the company’s offer, Maine Yankee spokesman Eric Howes responded: "Wiscasset EMS has supported Maine Yankee over many years, especially with our annual fire/medical drill. Maine Yankee is pleased to make this donation toward the purchase of a ‘fly car’ that will enhance the ability of Wiscasset EMS to respond to calls in the community." The fly car idea is not on the board’s agenda for Tuesday night.

    American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds are. According to Simmons’ report, Wiscasset’s first $198,716 has arrived. The town has until 2024 to spend it, Simmons wrote to the board. He asked the board to consider spending $123,000 of it on a project that has shown multiple towns it would cost more than the town planned to spend: Getting generators for pump stations.

    The board is also set to take up special amusement permits for Wiscasset Speedway and Taste of Orient, and the solar project’s lease of Wiscasset Municipal Airport land.

    The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83625653734?pwd=M1k5K1lwNnhlakhvR0tHQlJHQVArQT09  or dial 646 558 8656. Meeting ID: 836 2565 3734, passcode: 911529