Warren Ambulance Service Deputy Director Robert Wood said paying to have emergency medical technicians on hand for day shifts has reduced response times and has the potential to save lives.

The town has started paying a daily rate (per diem) to have two ambulance service staff members at the station or within five minutes from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. Townspeople approved $42,355 in funding for the program at the town meeting in March and it went into effect July 1.

Town Manager Grant Watmough said it started in July because the program is funded for half a year. At the next town meeting in March, residents will decide whether to fund the per diem program for a full year. A full year would cost more than $80,000, Watmough said.

As part of this program, a driver and a paramedic or EMT are available at all times during the work week daytime hours.

In the past, the Warren Ambulance Service had been an all-volunteer department. In recent years, the service saw an increase in the number of calls per year. In addition, there was a shortage of volunteers available during the daytime hours of the work week when many of the volunteers work full-time jobs elsewhere.

Members of the service brought the problem to selectmen and a number of options were looked at including the possibility of hiring outside ambulance departments to provide coverage for the town. Members of the volunteer town ambulance service proposed the per diem solution.

Wood said the department is now fully staffed. It has gone from about 10 members to 20 through the program, he said.

“It’s been a pretty good transition,” he said.

The town no longer is seeing the missed calls it did in recent years. In the past, other towns responded to emergency calls and then billed Warren for the service. Wood also sees an improvement in response time to emergencies.