BAILEYVILLE, Maine — In what appears to be a preemptive move to avoid possible state fines, the Baileyville Ambulance Service has suspended itself.
Town Manager Linda Pagels-Wentworth informed the council during a meeting last week that ambulance service director Scott Harriman had notified the town by letter that the service was withdrawn in late February.
Pagels-Wentworth is on vacation and could not be reached for comment.
Council Chairwoman Dorothy Johnson, however, confirmed the service’s suspension Monday.
Harriman, who was elected voluntary director last October, said Monday he could not comment at this time on what led to his decision to suspend the service temporarily.
Johnson said that Pagels-Wentworth told councilors the suspension centered on a lack of state-required documentation regarding training, reviews and inoculations. She said if the service continued to operate without proper paperwork, the state could impose fines.
Johnson also said Pagels-Wentworth expressed her concern that no bills had been sent out for the service for more than four months.
Harriman said Monday, however, that the ambulance service has one or two runs a week, and because he is a volunteer, he found it efficient to prepare and send bills when he could do 20-25 bills at a time.
“We just started billing in April,” Harriman said. “At first we were billing once a week, but that really wasn’t efficient. We average 70 to 90 runs a year. It just made sense to wait to bill until we had several to send out together.”
Johnson denied rumors that a local move is under way to shut the service down permanently.
“We are considering any move that Baileyville can make to save money,” Johnson said. “But that does not mean putting area senior citizens at risk.”
At last week’s meeting, councilors agreed by using a straw poll that they supported the ambulance service, although Johnson said councilors wanted to get to the bottom of why the records were not kept updated or available.
Johnson added that even though three ambulance attendants were at the meeting, they all said they were unaware of the suspension before Harriman’s letter.
The state’s Bureau of Labor Standards is working with service members and the town to bring the records up to date. Meanwhile, Downeast EMS, based in Baileyville, is providing ambulance coverage for the community.