Woolwich ambulance service talks continue

Posted:  Tuesday, January 8, 2019 - 11:30am

The Woolwich select board, EMS director and fire chief continued eying the future of the ambulance service Monday evening. Last month, Fire Chief Mike Demers and EMS Director Brian Carlton suggested the town expand ambulance services rather than rely on an outside EMS provider for supplemental coverage.

For years, the town has relied on volunteers and North East Mobile Health for ambulance coverage. The town’s contract with the Topsham-based ambulance provider expires in June.

Demers and Carlton presented three options. The two men's preference was Option 2, to have two EMS personnel on call 24/7 within a certain distance of the fire station. Ambulance members on call would be paid a stipend of $35 to $50 per shift and the responding crew paid hourly.

Another option would be to have one ambulance member on call at the station from 6 to 6 Monday through Friday with the remainder of the coverage furnished by volunteers.

The third option Demers explained would basically carry on what the EMS department currently offers, paying ambulance members responding from home an hourly rate.

Carlton said the cost for Option 2 was $144,640, but, he added, anticipated ambulance revenues of $72,000 would reduce that.

“This means the town would only be spending about $25,000 more than what it’s currently spending for the service,” he explained.

The proposal included buying and equipping a second used ambulance for an estimated $32,000 to $45,000. Demers said if this were too much, the town might consider leasing a second ambulance for a year until the service got up and running.

The town’s current ambulance is a used Ford Trauma Hawk bought from Harpswell Neck Fire and Rescue in September 2015.

This past year, voters raised $48,500 for EMS including staffing and stipends. Carlton noted, in 2018, Woolwich EMS had 229 ambulance calls and responded to all but 12 of them. Forty of those calls were for transports.

Chairman Dave King Sr. said going it alone won’t be easy.

“We’ve had a long relationship with North East, close to 20 years and with very little cost to the town. Now this appears to be changing,” he told the Wiscasset Newspaper.

King said the select board’s challenge is to continue providing ambulance services in the “best, most fiscally responsible way.”

On Thursday, King said he would be meeting with Bath officials about possibly contracting with Bath EMS to provide the town with supplemental ambulance coverage.

“If they’re interested then we’ll schedule a followup meeting,” he said.

North East Mobile Health officials haven’t returned the town’s requests to discuss a new ambulance contract, added King.