Selectmen discuss ambulance service with two suitors

Wiscasset, CLC ambulance make cases for Edgecomb service
Posted:  Wednesday, June 6, 2018 - 8:45am

In May, Edgecomb voters appropriated $20,000 for municipal ambulance services for Fiscal Year 19, but residents still don’t know who will provide those services beginning July 1. Selectmen are considering two bids. One is from the current provider Wiscasset Ambulance Service. The second is from Central Lincoln County Ambulance Service.

Selectmen began searching for an alternative earlier this year due to concerns about Wiscasset Ambulance Service’s long term viability and a proposed rate increase. Edgecomb paid WAS $3,500 for FY 18, but this spring Wiscasset officials indicated there would be a rate increase. In April, Wiscasset officials proposed increasing the annual fee to $6,500 and requested all uncollected fees from Edgecomb calls.  In 2017, WAS reported 108 calls to Edgecomb which resulted in $5,362.34 in uncollected fees. Earlier this year,  CLCAS submitted a flat $20,000 fee.

During the June 4 board meeting, selectmen met separately with representatives from both ambulance services. At 5 p.m., Edgecomb officials met with Wiscasset Selectmen Jeff Slack and Judy Colby who answered the majority of questions. WAS Director Toby Martin arrived later during the interview and provided written information. At 7 p.m., selectmen met with CLCAS Director Warren Waltz who explained his organization’s proposal. Edgecomb officials provided each service with questions on their proposals. The questions centered around each service’s response time, staffing, hospital preferences, and pricing.

In 2017, WAS responded to 762 total calls. Wiscasset’s average response time to Edgecomb was six minutes and 21 seconds, according to WAS data. Wiscasset also reported 21 active licensed emergency medical technicians.

In 2017,  CLC responded to 2,348 calls. The Damariscotta-based service has 32  licensed EMTs. Both ambulance services estimated average response time between six minutes with latest arrival to remote locations near 13-14 minutes. Wiscasset’s proposal included unpaid Edgecomb fees during the past 2.5 years. In 2016, unpaid bills totalled $12,370. In 2017, it was $5,362. And as of May 13, 2018, unpaid Edgecomb calls totaled $8,530.

CLC’s bid is $13,500 more than Wiscasset’s. However, the bid doesn’t request municipal reimbursement for unpaid fees. Waltz explained CLC’s bid resulted less from bad debts and more from higher maintenance costs and increased staff resulting from an increased workload.

Both services reported patients had the choice of hospital except for life-threatening situations. Edgecomb selectmen indicated they would likely choose a municipal hospital provider in two weeks.

In other action, the selectmen are seeking information about how valuable a recently surveyed town-owned property is. Selectmen want to sell a 3.3-acre section of the Lallis property on McKay Road. The property includes 100 feet of frontage and is located in a rural zone.

Selectmen will meet next at 6 p.m. Monday, June 18 in the municipal building.