City to extend ambulance partnership into September

ELLSWORTH — The city will extend its partnership with Bangor-based ambulance company Northern Light Medical Transport for another two months, said Northern Light representative Ed Moreshead.

“We talked yesterday about continuing on with the relationship,” said Moreshead, referring to a meeting on June 27 at City Hall. “I think that things are going pretty well.”

City councilors voted last November to begin housing ambulances in the Fire Department at City Hall for a trial period that will end on July 31.

The plan was put in place after County Ambulance, which had been operating in the city for more than 40 years, closed suddenly last August.

Officials stressed at the time that the arrangement was temporary and would not affect plans for discussions around the future of emergency medical services in the city. A concept plan for a public safety building has been in the works since 2017.

City Manager David Cole said that the partnership has been working well so far and that lawyers would be drawing up documents to extend it into September, at which point the council would likely take up the issue.

Moreshead said the call volume has been “pretty much what we expected,” and that the nonprofit has answered 98.5 percent of the calls that come in, calling on mutual aid partners to answer the remainder.

Although the ambulances and crew are housed in the Fire Department, the two operate independently.

“We accompany them if they ask us to,” said Moreshead. “We respond on anything that would sound like a structure fire.”

Under the arrangement, Northern Light pays the city $833 per month to use Fire Department facilities. The ambulance service also paid for its share of the modifications made to the fire department to house the crew.

The $833 works out to $10,000 on a yearly basis, which Cole has previously said is based partly on direct utility costs “and what we feel is fair.”

Moreshead said the arrangement had gone smoothly over the winter and spring.

“There’s always small bumps in the road but I think that [Fire Department] Chief [Richard] Tupper and I have an open line of communication,” Moreshead said. “We’d like to continue on.”

Kate Cough

Kate Cough

Kate covers the city of Ellsworth, including the Ellsworth School Department and the city police beat, as well as the towns of Amherst, Aurora, Eastbrook, Great Pond, Mariaville, Osborn, Otis and Waltham. She lives in Bar Harbor and welcomes story tips and ideas. She can be reached at [email protected]

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