Gardiner Ambulance proposal to extend weekend service this summer
GARDINER – With a proposal to staff a third ambulance for summer and fall weekends, the Gardiner fire chief hopes to improve the service and response time of the Gardiner ambulance service.
The pilot program would require about $ 56,000 of overtime within the fire department’s proposed budget to place two paramedics and an ambulance at the Richmond Fire Department from the holiday weekend of July 4 through mid-October.
But it also comes at a time when Gardiner City Council has asked city department heads to cut the city’s proposed $ 6.6 million spending plan in the face of tax increases slated for in the city’s plans. government spending of Maine School Administrative District 11 and Kennebec County.
Although Gardiner Ambulance Service has three ambulances, it employs two regularly. With service calls exceeding 3,000 per year in its area of approximately 175 square miles, the program is expected to be a means of improving response times to medical emergencies and fires in the seven and a half communities it serves.
“The idea is that Richmond is far from here,” Gardiner Fire Chief Rick Sieberg said. “If we can staff our third ambulance in our southern coverage area, we’ll get a better response.”
An ambulance ride to Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick or Maine Medical Center in Portland can take more than three hours and leave an ambulance and two paramedics to respond to fires or medical emergencies.
Gardiner fire officials have been working to expand staffing to cover the growing number of calls received by the city’s fire and ambulance services. Al Nelson, Sieberg’s predecessor, unsuccessfully sought grants and municipal funds to increase the number of paramedic firefighters over the course of several years.
Sieberg tries a different approach. Last winter he stationed Gardiner’s third ambulance at the Richmond Fire Department with a two-person crew during each winter storm, with the approval of Richmond Fire Chief John Bellino. Thanks to this arrangement, the ambulance was able to handle a serious medical call to Richmond and a fire, which Gardiner Fire and Rescue could not have done otherwise.
Richmond and Gardiner have already forged a partnership on providing emergency care. Under the sponsorship of Gardiner Ambulance, members of the Richmond Fire Department have been trained to be first responders so that they can provide more than basic first aid at the scene of fires or accidents.
In 2017, when the training was first announced, Richmond was the only municipality in Sagadahoc County without some sort of first responder service. At that time, Bellino was the deputy chief and he was the only paramedic in the department.
Bellino supports this proposal because it will greatly improve the service Richmond receives.
“This ambulance team provides more than just an ambulance service; they are also firefighters, ”he said. “It is a great advantage for Richmond to be able to accommodate two people at the station for 24 hours on a weekend. They can help with fire suppression as well as EMS delivery. “
Bellino said he plans to speak with Selectmen’s Richmond board at a workshop in June on several items, including the Gardiner Ambulance Service pilot project, as well as proposals for funding a firefighter. -EMT on call and facility upgrades.
“It’s kind of an atypical arrangement,” he says. “It can present a certain curiosity. It’s a pretty unique business. “
But this is not without precedent; Bellino said he found a similar program in Lincoln, who worked with Millinocket.
“It’s a little unorthodox and we both like it a bit,” he says. “Chef Gardiner and I both look at unorthodox things as a different way of approaching things rather than just following the cookie-cutter method (approach) that is common to most hospitality departments. ‘fire.”
The Gardiner ambulance service is a business fund, which usually means the service is supported by user fees. Each of the communities served by Gardiner Ambulance pays a fee for the service and covers the cost of uncollected ambulance bills, including Gardiner. Income from the Gardiner Ambulance corporate fund, about $ 1.5 million, subsidizes the salaries of the firefighters and the Gardiner chief.
Due to the timing of the proposal, overtime costs were not factored into the fees that other municipalities pay. But, said Sieberg, he took the proposal to the Gardiner Ambulance Advisory Committee, made up of officials from towns in the service area, and members were in favor.
“I would like to start this in July,” he said. “That’s why I need Gardiner to start the process. I cannot go back to communities that already have their budget. “
Sieberg said he was not trying to build an empire.
“My hope is to start talking to all the communities we serve and see if there is interest in continuing this on a more permanent basis,” he said, “whether it is to find funding for two other people Monday through Friday or whatever swing shift. Something is better than nothing. “
Central Maine Police Journal May 25