GOULDSBORO — Schoodic EMS, which provides 24/7 medical emergency response to the towns of Gouldsboro and Winter Harbor, will continue to compensate its squad’s members on a pay-per-call basis for the 2021-22 fiscal year. The decision came after selectmen concluded that going to an hourly wage would cost far more.
At their special meeting March 23, selectmen weighed compensating emergency medical technicians (EMTs) at an hourly rate at an annual cost of $74,544 versus spending $57,867.79 per year when paying them on a per-call basis. The town manager’s hourly-wage estimate did not include EMTs and paramedics’ time spent fulfilling required training for license renewals.
“If you go to hourly, you’ll have to add the training hours,” Gouldsboro resident Bob Harmon noted at the meeting.
At present, Schoodic EMS’s only full-time employees are Gouldsboro/Winter Harbor Fire Chief Tate McLean and the squad’s office manager, Ken McCartney. McLean is an advanced EMT and McCartney is a paramedic and both regularly go out on calls. The rest of the crew includes another advanced EMT, three paramedics and three EMTs. The first responders currently are paid per call and that amount depends on their training and skill level. Paramedics earn $150 per call. Advanced EMTs receive $100 per call while EMTs get $75 per call. All are paid $2 per hour when on call and ready to roll during a 12-hour shift. An emergency vehicle driver is compensated $50 per call and $2 per hour when on call during a 12-hour shift. A typical ambulance call requires two EMTs and takes three hours to and from Ellsworth. Drivers are paid an additional $25 and $50 for roundtrips to Bangor and Waterville.
Last year, Gouldsboro Town Manager Andrea Sirois advised selectmen that Maine towns were being encouraged to shift from per-call compensation to paying an hourly wage in order to remain compliant with state and federal labor laws in coming years. Since then, McLean and McCartney furnished detailed information about their squad’s operation.
Selectman Cheri Robinson said she recently contacted the Maine Department of Labor and was assured that the town is compliant if EMTs are compensated at set, established rates. Furthermore, she said department staff said the town will not face reprisals if it continues compensating at an hourly rate at this time.
“I make a motion that we pay a stipend [per-call rate] for this year,” Robinson said Tuesday. Selectmen voted 5-0 to stick with per-call pay for Schoodic EMS.
At the March 23 meeting, selectmen also voted 5-0 to authorize Schoodic EMS to spend up to $20,000 from its reserve account to upgrade the squad’s outdated Life Support Pack model. The life pack contains cardiac and trauma life support equipment. Paramedic Ken Munroe said the No. 4 or 5 models should be good “for another five years.”
In addition, Fire Chief McLean informed the board that the department’s Engine 3 fire truck’s pump gear has a malfunctioning pump gear. The chief planned last week to take the fire truck to be looked at at Colwell Diesel Service in Ellsworth. Depending on the outcome, McLean said the vehicle might have to be repaired at K&T Fire Equipment in the Aroostook County town of Island Falls.