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New ambulance director seeks department improvements

  • —Courtesy photo



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Tuesday, November 14, 2017

When minutes can make the difference, response time becomes an overriding concern.

The Wilton Ambulance service provides medical care and transport services for three towns: Wilton, Lyndeborough and Temple. One of the ways that the ambulance has found to shorten response times is to have on-call ambulance personnel that live within six miles of the ambulance bay respond from home. They can meet with the ambulance along the way, or report to the scene, and the ambulance doesn’t have to wait for them to arrive.

At a recent Select Board meeting, new Ambulance Chief Steven Desrosiers suggested to the board that the ambulance purchase a used vehicle to act as a rapid response vehicle. When ambulance members are on-call at home, they would have the vehicle with them. The idea, explained Select Board member Kermit Williams, would be to have a minimal amount of town-owned medical equipment in the vehicle, so the EMT or Paramedic could begin medical treatment immediately if they arrived ahead of the ambulance. 

“If they’re there first, and the ambulance hasn’t gotten there, they don’t have the equipment to deal with a heart attack or something else where time can be of the essence,” said Williams. 

The Select Board approved a proposal to bid on a used four-wheel drive vehicle that Desrosiers identified as a likely prospect to be used as a rapid response vehicle, up to a cost of $8,000. The bidding went above the town’s maximum, however, and the vehicle went to another bidder. 

“I think that Mr. Desrosiers will continue to look,” said Williams. 

Antrim Ambulance, which serves Antrim, Bennington, and Stoddard, does not have, or plan to have, a rapid response vehicle any time in the near future, according to deputy chief Sherry Miller.

"Our truck is normally out in four to five minutes anyway," said Miller, who said the department is made up of on-call people. 

Miller said there are some situations where a volunteer would go to the scene over the station, but in most cases that decision deals with a volunteer's proximity to the call. 

"Most of the time, we are going straight to the station," said Miller. 

Miller is also a part-time employee of Jaffrey-Rindge Memorial Ambulance, which she said also does not have a rapid response vehicle. 

Last year, a proposed second full-time paramedic was proposed to be added to the department, but the position was ultimately cut in the budget process. Desrosiers acknowledged the need for more staff in the department but said that he’d rather see an additional three part-time employees than a full-timer, in order to keep costs down by avoiding having to pay benefits to a full-time employee.

In addition to adding more staff, Desrosiers said, he’d like to see pay increases for the personnel. While former ambulance chief Gary Zirpolo cited low pay as part of his decision to resign, Desrosiers said he’d like the pay structure for the part-time employees addressed first. 

“I will be bringing forth a set of wage increases when I redo my budget cycle.”

Desrosiers said between wage increases and needed facilities repairs, it was unlikely that he would address a rapid response vehicle in the next budget, unless he found a suitable used vehicle that could be purchased within the budget, or someone donated a used vehicle to the department. 

 

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