ELLSWORTH — A partnership between the city and Bangor-based ambulance service Northern Light Medical Transport is going well, Ellsworth Fire Department Chief Richard Tupper told councilors on Monday evening.
“This is a very, very good working relationship we’ve had with them,” Tupper said. “There have been a few learning curves and adjustments, but nothing too major.”
It’s been nearly six months since councilors voted to house two ambulances in the Fire Department at City Hall. Under the agreement, which is temporary, Northern Light handles all patient billing and pays roughly $833 per month to the city. It also covered the cost of alterations to the department, including adding four beds, recliners and partition curtains.
“It has been a little cozy downstairs,” said Tupper, but he added that it is a good problem to have. He said his primary concern going forward is how to fill gaps when a call comes in and both ambulances are out in the field.
Ed Moreshead, director of Northern Light Medical Transport, agreed that the partnership has been valuable, despite the tight quarters. Moreshead also informed councilors of a tuition grant secured by Atlantic Partners EMS that would defray the cost of basic emergency medical technician training for Ellsworth Fire Department members who are not yet trained.
The grant would save $895 per student, Moreshead said. He did not give an overall figure for tuition.
Ellsworth would be responsible for the books and the background check,” Moreshead said.
The class could be held in Ellsworth, Moreshead said, cutting down on travel time for students.
Northern Light has been responding full time to calls in Ellsworth since August 2018, when County Ambulance abruptly closed its doors after four decades in business. But the city has been considering options for its emergency services for several years, and in 2017 hired a Bangor-based architecture firm to draw up concept plans for a public safety building. Those plans have not yet been made public.