Rockland hikes fees for mutual-aid medical calls

By Stephen Betts | Jan 12, 2018
Photo by: City of Rockland

Rockland — Towns that call for emergency medical services from Rockland -- when their towns' crews are busy or unavailable -- will be paying a lot more money.

The Rockland City Council voted unanimously Monday night, Jan. 8, to increase the emergency medical services fees, including for mutual-aid calls.

For instance, the cost to send an ambulance and crew outside Rockland will jump from $500 to $800 per call.

"We're trying to level the playing field," Rockland Fire Chief Chris Whytock said.

He said the increase is the true cost of the service provided to the neighboring communities. He said the cost should not be less than what it costs property taxpayers in Rockland for the service.

More than half the 204 mutual-aid calls responded to by Rockland EMS were to Thomaston, according to statistics provided by Rockland's fire chief.

Thomaston has a per-diem staff on during the day, but in the evening the EMS department is staffed by on-call personnel. Whytock said most of the responses to Thomaston are when its per-diem staff are not at the station.

Thomaston is by far the greatest user of Rockland's mutual-aid service. The next-closest community is South Thomaston, at 26 calls in 2017.

North East Mobile Health Services also called upon Rockland 26 times. North East provides EMS services to Camden, Rockport, Hope and Lincolnville.

Rockland crews also responded 24 times to Cushing.

There were three mutual-aid calls to Vinalhaven, three to North Haven, two to St. George, one to Warren, and one time last year when a Rockland crew was flown by Penobscot Air Service to a critically ill patient on Criehaven.

Other than North East, all the other communities are served by per-diem and on-call members.

Rockland contracts with Owls Head to provide EMS coverage.

Comments (3)
Posted by: Dale Hayward | Jan 14, 2018 00:39

Jeff: Then I assume that the facility that calls gets billed? We worry about out emts getting hurt lifting someone especially when they need two or three extra due to circumstances of the injured. Why do these facilities get away with this. They should be able to have staff requirements that cover lift assist.

Posted by: Jeff Grinnell | Jan 13, 2018 14:00

To answer one of your questions, there are many elder care facilities in the area and through out the state that have a "no lift" policy. It is not a rule or policy from the state agencies against this. It is a management policy from the insurance/legal side of the house for these facilities due to the numbers of staff being injured during said lifting. And even working within these guidelines, these facilities call the emergent 911 service instead of the non emergent transfer services. This particular thing is not just a local problem but statewide.


Posted by: Dale Hayward | Jan 12, 2018 19:02

We have the best ems there is, and we, the residents of Rockland, have invested huge sums of money to gain their expertise, and they earn every bit of our appreciation. We, as Rockland residents deserve to be compensated for investing in a service that is one the spot efficient, and answers calls after some of the neighboring towns get two or three calls and no one responds. I can only imagine the rate increase is fair and carefully calculated. When we send an ambulance to another town to pick an elderly person up off the floor when they fall in a nursing home where I can not imagine there is not someone or two or whatever that could help that person. I know nothing about these facilities but I am sure someone will tell me that the "DHHS" or State of Maine laws will not allow them to do so. I would certainly think some of the calls can be investigated and perhaps a better plan instituted. Our folks are on the "run" constantly and again, they are top notch. Not to say anything adverse about any other agency.

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