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Home > Topics > Legislation & Funding
August 15, 2014

Conn. city inks new ambulance contract for $50K more

The city had been paying a previous company struggling with layoffs and service cuts $35,000 annually, and switched to another company for $85,000

By Jean Falbo-Sosnovich
New Haven Register

DERBY, Conn. — The city has inked a new contract with a Prospect-based communications company to handle its emergency and fire dispatch calls.

The Board of Aldermen this week unanimously approved a contract with Northwest Connecticut Public Safety Communications Center for $85,000 a year.

The contract is slated for discussion by the Board of Apportionment and Taxation at its meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 18, at City Hall.

The city had been paying CMED-New Haven $35,000 a year for dispatch services. However, the aldermen last month unanimously voted to sever ties with the embattled organization, which has been struggling with layoffs and drastic cut backs in services.

Fire Chief Tom Lenart said switching to Northwest was the right move, especially since the technology offered on its end is “far more advanced” than what Derby had been receiving.

The new contract is slated to take effect Sept. 15.

CMED recently cut back on the services it provides for the 18 towns it served. Its board of directors set a deadline of Oct. 15 that the service will no longer provide dispatch services to ‘non-core services,’ and those towns include Ansonia, Derby and Shelton. CMED is moving forward with a new model as of Jan. 1, 2015, that focuses only on the three core services most municipalities want, which are medical “patching” to connect accident scenes to hospitals, mutual aid and mass casualty coordination.

CMED South Central, a system in place since 1977, exists to connect emergency medical personnel to ambulance companies and area hospitals for an 18-town area stretching from Milford and the lower Naugatuck Valley in the west to Madison in the east and Meriden in the north.

Ansonia also recently split with CMED, opting for Northwest, as well. Shelton also left CMED. Seymour and Oxford currently use Northwest for its emergency dispatch and fire calls.

City Treasurer Keith McLiverty said the city will find the additional money to fund the difference in the contracts.

“We trust the public safety of our residents in the hands of our first responders led by Chief Lenart,” McLiverty said. “He is a man who does his homework and continues to lead our department in a stellar manner. If this vendor will provide better service to our fire department and the ambulance corps, and result in better service for our residents, then we will have to find the money. When it comes to the safety and lives of our firefighters and residents, we cannot accept second best.”

According to its website, Northwest serves 22 municipalities with “coordinated ambulance communications to five area hospitals, and works closely with local EMS providers and staff of local hospital emergency departments to provide the most up-to-date efficient communication system, enhancing patient care. By use of the system, a paramedic or EMT is able to talk directly with an Emergency Department Physician or Nurse to coordinate patient care.”

In business for nearly 30 years, Northwest began operations in 1975, handling approximately 12,000 calls a year for assistance. The call center now handles more than 100,000 calls annually.

Lenart said Northwest’s technology is “very advanced,” and will provide Derby with an enhanced service it did not have before. A state-of-the-art computer aided dispatch (CAD) system enhances Northwest’s operational capabilities both on a daily basis as well as under extreme circumstances such as natural disaster, mass casualty incident or national crisis, according to its website.

Have questions, feedback or ideas about our news coverage? Connect directly with the editors of the New Haven Register at AskTheRegister.com.

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McClatchy-Tribune News Service
©2014 the New Haven Register (New Haven, Conn.)

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