Conn. town seeks EMS proposals to update 1970s-era service
The service has remained relatively unchanged for more than 40 years; now the town is looking for providers to see if service can be improved
By Peter Marteka
The Hartford Courant
GLASTONBURY, Conn. — The town is reviewing how it provides ambulance and paramedic service during emergencies – a service that has remained relatively unchanged in town since the 1970s.
After the state legislature recently approved legislation giving towns and cities more input into how they select their emergency medical service providers, Town Manager Richard J. Johnson said he felt it was time to review ambulance and paramedic services that haven't changed much since the 1970s and 1980s. The town is currently seeking proposals from companies to provide the services.
"This is not a criticism" of the current service, Johnson said. "The legislation is intended to provide cities and towns with a greater ability to make their own decisions."
The town is currently served by the Glastonbury Volunteer Ambulance Association and Ambulance Service of Manchester. During periods when the association can't staff ambulances, the town depends on Vintech, an employment agency for emergency medical staff. For the January-June time period, volunteers manned about 13 percent of the shifts, according to Johnson. The association operates from a town-owned building behind the police department.
"There is a challenge in recruiting and training volunteers," he said. "It is not easy, particularly when you are looking at 24-7, 365 days a year coverage."
The town is also served by paramedics from ASM. Johnson said the company has served the town since the 1980s. When calls are received by dispatchers, one or both of the companies are sent out. Both companies charge patients at state-approved rates.
Once the town has received proposals, perspective companies will be evaluated by the town council.
"Given the importance of the service, it behooves us to make sure we get the best service in Glastonbury possible," said council Vice Chairman Whit C. Osgood. "It may very well be that what we find is this is the best way to do it."
"The town has been well served by the request for proposal process on almost everything we do," added Councilman Kurt P. Cavanaugh. "This should not be an exception."
Johnson said he expects to have some proposals ready to review in September or October.
"I think this will be a good educational experience for the whole town," council Chairman Stewart "Chip" Beckett III said. "I think this is a vital service to everyone. A lot has happened since the 1950s. The town has doubled in population. There are 60 percent more homes in places that in the 1950s people thought there wouldn't be homes. We should make sure we have the best system possible."
©2014 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)