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Wilton

Town down 1 ambulance

Emergency vehicle needs repairs following accident

  • Wilton Ambulance Chief Gary Zippolo met with Select Board members Bill Condra and Rick Swanson on Monday to discuss repairs needed on one of Wilton's ambulances following a collision in May which will leave the town short a vehicle next week. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Wilton Ambulance Chief Gary Zippolo met with Select Board members Bill Condra and Rick Swanson on Monday to discuss repairs needed on one of Wilton's ambulances following a collision in May which will leave the town short a vehicle next week.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Wilton will be short one of their two ambulances next week, as one vehicle will be going into the shop for repairs after a collision in May.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Wilton will be short one of their two ambulances next week, as one vehicle will be going into the shop for repairs after a collision in May.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Wilton Ambulance Chief Gary Zippolo met with Select Board members Bill Condra and Rick Swanson on Monday to discuss repairs needed on one of Wilton's ambulances following a collision in May which will leave the town short a vehicle next week. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Wilton will be short one of their two ambulances next week, as one vehicle will be going into the shop for repairs after a collision in May.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

WILTON — When one of Wilton’s ambulances was involved in a collision late last month, it left both drivers uninjured. The same cannot be said, however, for the ambulance itself, which will be out of commission as of Monday while it goes into the shop for repairs, which could leave Wilton short an ambulance for the duration of next week.

On May 23, one of two ambulances owned by Wilton was in an accident on Maple Street in Milford, when Susan Coffin, 67, of Wilton pulled out of a driveway in her 1994 Buick Station Wagon and the two vehicles collided. The ambulance, a 2007 Ford, was being driven by Robert Cole, 37, of Wilton. Neither Cole nor Coffin were injured by the crash, but both vehicles were damaged.

The damage to the ambulance has been estimated at $4,200, which will be covered by insurance, Ambulance Chief Gary Zippolo told the Select Board during its Monday meeting. A potential issue is that the ambulance will take approximately five days to fix.

Zippolo told the board that the week the ambulance is scheduled to be in the shop will be the week the second ambulance is used as the primary vehicle, and he felt the town would be secure with one ambulance. The town is occasionally required to go out on two consecutive calls, but it’s not a regular occurrence, he said; it happens once every two weeks or so.

Select Board Chair Dan Donovan said the board had discussed the issue and felt a second vehicle might be prudent. “[Select Board member Bill Condra] suggested he would be more comfortable with a backup, and I may too, being that it would be the older ambulance we’d be relying on,” he said.

Select Board member Rick Swanson asked Zippolo what would happen in the event that two ambulances are needed while one of the town’s was out of commission. Zippolo replied that the call would then go to either Milford or Peterborough ambulance services for assistance.

In the past, there have been instances when the town has used private ambulance services to have an additional vehicle, Zippolo said, and he could arrange a back-up vehicle if that is the board’s preference.

It might also be an opportunity to look at local dealers, since the town will have to purchase a new ambulance to replace their older one within a few years, he added.

Condra commented that insurance may cover the cost of supplying the town with a back-up ambulance while the other is being repaired. If that’s the case, he said, the town should take advantage of that. He requested that Zippolo inquire whether the ambulance’s insurance will cover the cost. The damaged ambulance will be in for repairs June 24 to 28.

In other ambulance service news, Zippolo asked that the board to clarify the vacation benefits for his per diem employees. Part-time workers for the town accrue vacation time. While many of the EMTs and paramedics that run the ambulance work more than 20 hours a week, much of that work is “on call,” said Zippolo. This means the employees don’t have to be physically in the ambulance bay, but must be within eight minutes of the station, and are obligated to fulfill any emergency calls that occur on their shift. They are paid at the same rate whether they are in the ambulance bay or on call.

Zippolo told the board that his is the only department that uses per diem employees, and there is no clearly laid out policy when it comes to their benefits. It hasn’t been an issue so far, he added, but he felt there should be a clarification.

“My question is, where do they fit in the system?” he said.

Donovan asked if any of the members of the crew who were per diem spent between 20 and 40 hours physically in the bay. Zippolo said most of the time is spent on call, and he does not have any per diem members that spend that long in the bay.

Donovan said that in his view, people on call should not accrue vacation time. People who are on site working for a significant number of hours, the board would be willing to look into whether they qualified for vacation time, he said.

“It doesn’t sound like you have anyone that would qualify,” Donovan said.

I do want to ensure the residents of the Towns of Wilton, Lyndeborough, and Temple that Golden Cross Ambulance in Claremont had been gracious enough to loan us an ambulance for the amount of time we need to get our ambulance fixed. The Town of Wilton Ambulance is presently operating with two advanced life support ambulances.

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