PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — City officials and representatives of The Aroostook Medical Center have reached a tentative agreement on shared ambulance services. The agreement will include keeping an ambulance at the Presque Isle Fire Department and one Crown Ambulance crew member who will be joined by a firefighter when called out.
“The city has been interested in partnering [with Crown Emergency Care and TAMC] for quite some time,” Deputy City Manager Martin Puckett said during a press conference to announce the deal Tuesday in Council Chambers at City Hall.
The PIFD has a “hardworking crew” and it was just a matter of looking for ways the city could supplement service, he said.
“I think we’ve come up with the best form possible. City Council approved the memorandum of understanding at Monday’s meeting, giving their full support to the proposal. Under the agreement, the ambulance and a crew member would be stationed at the PIFD 24/7, with the department providing a driver,” said Puckett, noting that the city is proud of the department’s call response time and that city officials think this is a “great partnership.”
The tentative plan was drafted by a joint TAMC/city work group that included councilors Craig Green and Bruce Sargent.
“Our collective goal is to see residents receive the highest quality and level of care possible,” said Roland Joy, TAMC’s vice president of patient care services. “This unit will be first to respond to calls in the Star City and be second for calls to Washburn, Easton, Mapleton, Chapman and Castle Hill. Crown Emergency Care will maintain line coverage with current crews to assure backup coverage to Presque Isle. During fire calls, CEC will call in a crew to allow the city to respond fully.”
Under the agreement, TAMC will pay the PIFD a fee of $70,000 a year for the use of the firefighter/driver. CEC will provide the ambulance, as well as all equipment and a paramedic staff member located at the fire station.
TAMC will additionally pay PIFD $30 per call-out. Calls outside of Presque Isle by the combined crew will be based on the city’s actual cost; however, under the tentative agreement, Joy said TAMC will pay no more than $100,000 annually to the city.
“We are proud to partner with CEC and TAMC to provide Presque Isle residents with quality paramedic service and timely ambulance transport. City staff and TAMC officials have put a great deal of thought and care into the tentative agreement, with service to residents being the top priority. While there are still details that need to be ironed out, we are confident that this collaboration will have a positive effect on the community,” said Puckett.
CEC/TAMC officials view the agreement to work collaboratively with the city of Presque Isle to provide ambulance service to residents as one that will preserve the region’s premier emergency transport service and help mitigate some of the financial constraints faced by municipalities.
“TAMC operates CEC as a service to the community. It is not a profit-making venture,” Joy said. “As The County’s largest nonprofit organization and most comprehensive provider of health care, TAMC takes seriously our role to provide this and other services to area residents. The financial imperative of both the city and CEC made it clear that it could not be business as usual moving forward; however, we are pleased that we have been able to come together in this way to do what is in the best interest of the citizens and patients we serve,” Joy said.
Fire Chief Darrell White said the deal should have no impact on how emergency calls are routed.
“Calls, for now, will still be routed through Crown, which will dispatch ambulances as needed, so there should be no effect on those calling 911 in an emergency,” said White.
White told councilors Monday night that his staff had already designated space for CEC personnel at the firehouse.
“They’re looking forward to working with Crown staff,” said White.
Over the coming weeks, further discussions between the city and TAMC, as well as with employees of the PIFD and CEC, will focus on the details of implementing a shared services model.