HARTFORD COURANT: Paramedics Proposed For Canton Ambulance Service

By | November 30, 2014


By: Ken Byron

Paramedics Proposed For Canton Ambulance Service. Improvements have been proposed for Canton’s ambulance service.

November 28, 2014

CANTON — Fire department officials are recommending that the town’s ambulance service be upgraded to include paramedics, a proposal that could cost nearly $300,000 or more.

Leaders of the Canton Volunteer Fire & EMS Department outlined that proposal to the board of selectmen on Nov. 25. A similar recommendation was made by a task force appointed to look at options for the ambulance service two years ago and fire department officials presented a study to the selectmen that went into the plan in more detail.

The ambulance service does not have any paramedics, who are usually paid professionals. In their presentation, fire department officials said many of the problems that had plagued the ambulance service are getting better. Nevertheless, a dramatic change is needed, they said.

Fire department officials said the key issue is that the kind of certification the ambulance service’s staff have soon will no longer be available. At that point, the service would have to go down to a basic life support level up or a paramedic one.

Right now, a paid service staffs the town’s ambulances from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and town volunteers are on call the rest of the time. All staff are certified as advanced or basic emergency medical technicians, which are levels below paramedic. When paramedics are needed, an ambulance from the University of Connecticut Health Center is called and on average it takes nearly 17 minutes for the UConn crew to get to town.

In their presentation to the selectmen, fire department officials said Canton is the only community in the area whose ambulances are staffed with advanced emergency medical technicians. The town’s ambulance personnel are certified by the University of Connecticut Health Center. But department officials said they have been told by UConn that it will stop supporting the AEMT certification in the summer of 2016.

No matter what is done, expenses for ambulance service likely will go up dramatically, mostly because the town would have to contract with an outside provider for paramedics. Fire department officials said they do not support having the ambulance service go down to a basic life support level.

“We are trying to paint a worst-case scenario,” said Gerald Holland, a member of the fire department who worked on the presentation given to the selectmen. “The real costs to the town would be more than a quarter of a million dollars in the first year.”

Three ideas for the ambulance service were presented. All involve having paramedics and the cheapest would cost $297,047. The two other options would have more personnel or use more vehicles.

The selectmen made no decision at the Nov. 25 meeting and officials said the proposals outlined then will require much more discussion. Fire department officials said making any changes to the ambulance service will take 12 to 18 months.

Copyright © 2014, Hartford Courant