Emergency Medical Service Provider Decision Requires Your Input

By Joe Ryan | Jun 03, 2013

Rockport, Camden, Lincolnville, Hope — I would like to thank the four-town Emergency Medical Service Review Committee for the excellent and important work they have done over the past few months. Our towns face an important decision as to how our emergency response service is provided, and they have provided some critical information to help us make an informed decision. As a governmental committee, they have successfully removed emotional aspects from their report and have provided us with solid financial and administrative information. This financial consideration is a key component that should be considered when casting your vote.

There is, however, an emotional aspect to this decision that should not be denied. Just as the important financial and administrative information should weigh in your decision, so should the impact to the community and your personal level of comfort with those who respond in your time of need. Our current provider of emergency medical service has always provided a high level of service, and their quality and skill is in no way being questioned. To the contrary, they are highly praised by the Review Committee in these areas.

In my case, should my wife or I ever need emergency response service, the Camden First Aid Association team members know us personally. We have worked together in the community. We have attended many of the same fundraising events. We have celebrated holidays, birthdays and milestone events together. They have been to our homes, and we have been to theirs. So in the event of an accident, they not only know how to call my wife, but they probably know that I usually have two dogs in the car with me, and can respond appropriately. Even the most skilled responder from outside our community could not respond in the same way. The comfort I take in this knowledge has true value to me.

Camden First Aid Association has its problems with administration. These problems can be fixed given specific parameters and time period. Other important community organizations have been in a similar situation and have recovered to become vital to our  community. I was reminded that the YMCA was in a similar situation many years ago, struggling financially and on the verge of closing. Franchise service could have easily moved in to fill the need, but in a very different way. Instead, a new board of directors was formed, skilled and experienced management was put in place, and a long-range vision was developed. It’s hard to imagine our community without today’s YMCA.

The financial information provided by the Emergency Medical Service Review Committee is clear. We will save town money, and thus your tax money, by hiring a large, state-wide service provider. In Rockport for example, the average property taxpayer will save about $35 per year by choosing outside service over Camden First Aid Association. Other towns will see similar savings. For me, keeping our service provider jobs local, keeping those who know us personally employed in these positions, and being an active part of the community they serve has value, and $35 per year seems like a bargain.

I urge all voters in Camden, Rockport, Lincolnville and Hope to contact your select board and weigh both the financial and emotional aspects of this decision. Let them know how you would like them to vote. Attend your select board and town meetings. By doing so, you will be sure your select board is representing you.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Karen A Grove | Jun 07, 2013 09:53

At this recent Camden Select Board Meeting John French stated that if the voters at Town Meeting made clear they wanted to retain the Camden First Aid Association that he would bow to the will of the people. If Camden decides to fund the full $170,000.00 and makes it clear to the Select Board that it intends for the funding to underwrite Camden First Aid and the other three towns decide on the lower amount to fund Northeast can the Camden Select Board follow through on following the will of the voters?

 

Another point is if the voters at Camden Town Meeting opt to fund only the $10,000.00 that would be necessary to fund Northeast and the other three towns opt to fund in full the request of Camden First Aid then Camden would have to have another special Town Meeting to revise the overall budget by the additional $160,000.00 needed to fall in line with the other three towns.  Special Town Meetings are usually sparsely attended, some having only 10 to 20 people making the decision to revise the vote of the larger body of representation of the prior vote.

 

I agree that the special recommending committee worked hard to come to their conclusion but I do not agree that this decision has to be done this year.  I would suggest that all four towns vote to support the Camden First Aid Association’s request for funding and issue a two year contract.  Camden First Aid is in a hole that was dug by the previous management and board of directors.  The current executive director and board are not the same people who created this mess.  I think we should give them two years to turn this fiscal crisis around. If at the end of that time they are not successful the four towns involved would have sufficient time to choose another provider with far more clarity than we have at this time.

 

Why are we are being pushed into a rush to resolve what is a very confusing and complicated situation? The delay of two years would give the town administrations and Select Boards time to craft a plan of funding and management expectations that are clearer and better thought out than what we will be voting on next week.

 

The Camden Select Board meeting lasts Tuesday showed how complicated this vote will be and how many citizens are confused on exactly what they will be deciding.  Delaying the decision in the interest of clarity would, in my opinion, be the wiser choice.



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