ELLSWORTH — An emergency medical services agreement between the city and Northern Light Medical Transport (NLMT) that councilors thought would be ready for vote was tabled April 19 when City Manager Glenn Moshier informed them that NLMT had rejected the agreement as written.
City attorneys had revised the contract to address “the exact deliverables,” Moshier told The American after the council meeting.
But NLMT will only sign a contract identical to its service contracts with other towns, writing the city that it “prefers a standard approach.”
The city had already negotiated a lower fee per capita, from NLMT’s original request of $9.40 down to $4 through June 30, 2021, $7 per capita for the following year and $9.40 for the third year of the contract.
But NLMT balked at changing its coverage standard to the city’s revisions “specifically dealing with response times and number of ambulance units, staffing and training level which will be located and available in Ellsworth,” Moshier said.
The standard contract states that NLMT “will provide for the primary benefit of the residents of municipality a twenty-four-hour, seven-day-a-week emergency ambulance service that shall respond promptly and efficiently to all calls for service originating within the service area of the municipality.” If NLMT is not available, then mutual aid will be used.
However, NLMT provided more detail in its letter to the city, stating, “As we have for the past 3 years, we plan to staff 2 ambulances with advanced EMT level or above in Ellsworth, which will be available to respond, unless on a call elsewhere.”
“There is a stark difference in the two statements,” Moshier said.
Northern Light has provided emergency medical services in Ellsworth and surrounding communities since 2018, when it also signed a housing agreement that allowed its emergency medical responders and two ambulances to share space with the Fire Department. No emergency service agreement was requested.
But NLMT’s two crews are vacating that space when its agreement with the city expires in August. This led to the request for a service agreement, and also to discussions in the council’s Emergency Services Committee to create a city-run emergency medical services unit.
“If they have a unit in Gouldsboro and another unit 2 miles from Ellsworth, we’re out of luck if there’s an ambulance call in Ellsworth,” Councilor and committee member Michelle Kaplan said. “I don’t think that’s what the people of Ellsworth want.” She requested that the committee meet prior to the council vote in May.
If the council approves the agreement, it would extend until June 30, 2023.
“We’ve found no other avenue,” Councilor John Phillips said. “We don’t have any choice.”