Greenfield changing ambulance service providers from Peterborough to Wilton

  • The town of Greenfield will switch ambulance service providers - from Peterborough to Wilton - after the first of the year. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • The town of Greenfield will switch ambulance service providers - from Peterborough to Wilton - after the first of the year. Staff photo by Ashley Saari

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, December 05, 2018 5:31PM

The town of Greenfield will have a new ambulance service provider next year.

Effective the first of the year, Greenfield will transfer from Peterborough’s ambulance service to Wilton’s.

“There were no service issues. We have nothing but the highest regard for Peterborough’s ambulance service,” Greenfield Select Board chairman Robert Marshall said Tuesday. “They have been an outstanding partner, but we had an opportunity to get a similar level of service for less money.”

Under the new agreement, Greenfield will pay 16.33 percent of the money needed to run the ambulance service.

“We were assured by our current fire chief that we would be able to expect a similar level of service,” Marshall said. “We are always looking for more efficient ways to manage our budget and to still offer the same level of services.”

While a draft operating budget has yet to be finalized for 2019, Wilton Ambulance Chief Steve Desrosiers estimated Tuesday that Greenfield will pay about $60,000 – around $18,000 less than Peterborough was looking to charge.

“I think Peterborough does a phenomenal job, unfortunately today it all comes down to dollars and cents,” Desrosiers said.

Wilton Town Administrator Paul C. Branscombe said Tuesday that the ambulance budget will be a discussion at Thursday’s budget committee meeting.

Adding Greenfield to the mix changes the percentage that the other towns serviced by Wilton – Temple and Lyndeborough – will pay in upcoming years as well.

Previously, Wilton covered 55 percent of the cost, while Temple paid 20 percent and Lyndeborough paid 25 percent. The new agreement has Temple and Lyndeborough paying 16.33 percent, while Wilton drops to 51 percent.

With Greenfield on board, Wilton Ambulance will look to staff a third person in the ambulance building from Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. A third on call person will be added to the night and weekends as well.

Desrosiers said the only direct impact on the budget next year from bringing Greenfield in will be the additional staff member.

A request for additional personnel to cover the service’s second ambulance will be made much sooner – after the first ambulance is sent out, rather than waiting until the second ambulance is needed – with an additional town on board, Desrosiers said.

“We are a smaller service that is expanding to cover another community,” Desrosiers said. “We need to make sure we can provide these services timely and appropriately. The big challenge of taking on any new community is making sure the level of service we are providing is continuous as we expand.”

Desrosiers said he is the only full time employee on the 39 person staff, the rest of the staff is per diem. He is unsure how much the ambulance service’s staff will have to expand after taking on Greenfield.

Peterborough Fire Chief Edmund Walker said Wednesday afternoon that he doesn’t expect any dramatic changes in cost to the remaining towns serviced – Dublin, Hancock, Francestown and Sharon.

Walker said the department is in the process of developing the next budget, as he was notified last Wednesday of Greenfield’s decision.

“From our perspective, I think it’s unfortunate… none of the conversations around terminating the service involved us” Walker said. “At no point did anyone from Greenfield reach out to anyone in Peterborough and state their concerns… I think that’s my only real concern – was [Greenfield] making an informed decision, or a rash one based on economics.”

While the ambulance service will see a loss of revenue of about $100,000 – the combination of Greenfield’s contribution to the budget and revenue collected from Greenfield transports – maintenance, staffing, and other cuts should help to keep other towns contributions similar to prior projections.

“If any town is to pull out, we don’t feel it is reasonable to ask other towns to pay more,” Walker said. “Dividing $78,000 between the other towns isn’t a reasonable approach.”

Walker said he is working to craft a letter to send out to the other towns serviced by Peterborough to let them know of the upcoming changes.

“The most important thing is nothing will change in our ability to provide our services,” Walker said. “Any reduction is a reduction in the demand for service instead of a reduction in service… our service does a lot of things that others don’t. We have a lot of resources.”