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Wilton ambulance seeks pay increases for personnel

  • Wilton Ambulance Director Steve Desrosiers, right, speaks with the Wilton Select Board on Monday. Staff photo by Ashley SaarI

  • The Wilton Select Board discussed ambulance wages and purchasing of equipment during a meeting with ambulance member towns on Tuesday. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Ambulance wages are proposed to jump by $30,000, as the ambulance chief is proposing increases in both salaries and on-call pay to try to attract personnel.

“I’ve been having trouble filling weekends,” said Ambulance Director Steve Desrosiers in an interview Wednesday.

The ambulance budget is proposed to increase this year from $393,549 to $408,203. While pay increases make up the majority of the increase, costs are somewhat offset by decreases to the building repairs line, as much of the anticipated repairs have already been completed, and the health insurance line, with the elimination of a family plan in exchange for a single-person plan.

The labor line is proposed to go from $269,551 to nearly $300,000.

In the overnight hours, and on the weekends, the ambulance is staffed by a paramedic at the ambulance station, and a second, on-call employee. The on-call pay is set at $2 an hour, making it not enough of an incentive for workers, said Desrosiers.

Desrosiers proposal for the upcoming year it to increase on-call pay to $8 per hour during the week and $10 on the weekend.

In addition, he is proposing a pay increase for employees across the board, commensurate with their training levels. EMTs, which currently make $10 an hour would increase to $14 per hour, Advanced EMTs would go from $12 to $18, and Paramedics from $14 to $22.

The numbers, said Desrosiers, are based on a survey of the pay of four surrounding towns, and would place Wilton “almost dead in the middle” comparatively. 

Selectman Kermit Williams questioned that if the town was going to advocate for higher on-call pay, if they should go ahead and implement 24-hour coverage from the station, rather than having on-call personnel, asking what the cost difference would be.

“I would like to move in that direction. Eventually,” said Desrosiers, who said that measure would add a further $30,000 to the budget, and he didn’t think that would be palatable to the town or voters at this time. He said he hoped to be able to implement a plan to have full coverage until at least 11 p.m. or midnight within the next five years, but said that will have to be eased into as the budget allows. 

“The perfect, ideal situation is to have people at the bay all the time,” said Desrosiers. 

During a meeting with the Select Board on Monday, Selectwoman Kellie-Sue Boissonnault suggested a stop-gap measure to help fill those weekend hours, by issuing a $2 bonus per hour to both on-call and hourly pay from Friday night at 6 p.m. to Monday morning at 6 a.m., and even made a motion to do so, which was seconded for discussion.

Desrosiers said on the whole, he would support the measure but hesitated because it was intended to be a short-term fix until the budget was addressed at Town Meeting in March.

“To give something, take it back and replace it with something else seems like double-talk, and it may be my guys will see it that way,” said Desrosiers, who clarified he’d rather see the board support the proposed permanent increases to the pay.

Boissonnault agreed to rescind her motion. 

The ambulance will also be requesting leases for new equipment, including an ambulance which wasn’t anticipated to be replaced until 2020.

The town currently has a rotation schedule to replace its ambulances every 13 years. But the town’s 2007 ambulance is already in need of replacement, said Desrosiers. In addition, the town will have to replace its two cardiac monitors and two automated CPR devices, which are no longer supported or warranteed by the company that makes them.

The cost of the monitors is $82,000 and the cost of the new ambulance is $197,000.

Wilton, Lyndeborough and Temple all share costs for ambulance services. The ambulance bay is located in Wilton, and Wilton bears the biggest piece of the cost – paying 55 percent, with Lyndeborough picking up 25 percent and Temple 20 percent.

Because the town, as well as Lyndeborough and Temple, had not anticipated replacing these pieces of equipment this year, Desrosiers recommended leasing the equipment. Wilton has the funds in capital reserves to make the first year’s payments on them. 

 

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.