Committee selects Campion as EMS provider

Recommendation going to Board of Mayor and Burgesses

Naugatuck’s EMS subcommittee recommended the borough hire Campion Ambulance, over Naugatuck Ambulance, to provide emergency medical services next fiscal year.

NAUGATUCK — After nearly a year of discussion, research and debate, the borough’s EMS subcommittee unanimously recommended Campion Ambulance of Waterbury to become the borough’s emergency medical services provider for the coming fiscal year.

The decision came down to two companies, Campion Ambulance and Naugatuck Volunteer Ambulance Corps, which currently provides emergency medical services to the borough and has for over 40 years. The recommendation will now go to the Board of Mayor and Burgesses, which is scheduled to discuss and vote on the recommendation Tuesday night.

Deputy Mayor Tamath Rossi, who chairs of the subcommittee, said the subcommittee looked over the response times for both companies, rode along with Campion, toured the facilities of Naugatuck Ambulance and Campion, and conducted hundreds of hours of research while preparing to make this decision.

“Documentation-wise it’s been in excess of 400 pages that each member has reviewed,” Rossi said.

Along with the other data, the committee considered the large price difference between the two bids.

Naugatuck Ambulance offered a price of $296,000 and Campion offered a price of $96,000 for the year.

Neither of those bids included the price for dispatch, for which the town is currently paying approximately $100,000.

Rossi explained, in a prepared statement, the committee removed dispatch from the bid so that it could have a better idea of what prices each company was offering.

“Much thought was placed in striving to create true apples-to-apples comparison focused not on the usual categories of demographics and population but on call volume,” Rossi wrote.

Another cost included in Campion’s bid was finding a facility to use since the borough’s current facility may not be available to them.

“The property located on 246 Rubber Ave. that the Naugatuck Ambulance currently occupies is currently owned by the Naugatuck Volunteer Ambulance Corp., Inc. The ownership of the property will revert back to the borough of Naugatuck no later than Sept. 1, 2013. Campion Ambulance was aware of this when they bid and their bid includes securing of a site in Naugatuck for their operation,” Rossi wrote.

Rossi explained that the property would revert back either after the mortgage is paid off or has matured. This means that the property could revert back before Sept. 1, 2013.

The price, however, was not the only factor that Rossi based her decision on.

“For me, it’s not only the price, but I think that when you look at the size of the fleets, the technology, the amount of oversight, and accountability … that’s leaning me towards Campion myself. I will tell you, also, that the fact that Campion has had a presence in the community is a big factor,” Rossi said.

Not everyone in attendance was pleased with the committee’s decision.

Emergency Medical Management Solutions President Darrald Atwood, who attended the meeting alongside Naugatuck Ambulance President Larry Santoro, wondered how the borough was planning on dealing with the fact that Naugatuck Ambulance holds the Primary Service Area designation.

According to the Department of Public Health, which has authority over PSAs, the PSA is “a specific municipality or part thereof, to which one designated EMS provider is assigned for each category of emergency medical response services.”

That means that there can only be one EMS provider per service area and, for the borough, Naugatuck Ambulance is that provider.

Atwood said there are only two ways that a provider’s PSA can be revoked. It can either be voluntarily relinquished or it can be taken away by the state if the provider is not meeting its obligations and ultimately putting people’s health in jeopardy.

According to Atwood, if the state felt there was significant cause to revoke a provider’s PSA designation, the state would do so and appoint a provider in the interim.

He did not feel, however, that there was any problem with the Naugatuck Ambulance that would cause it to lose its PSA designation.

“The PSA designation, which is made by the state, is a major barrier to the action that you’ve just taken,” Atwood told the subcommittee.

The fact that Naugatuck Ambulance holds the Primary Service Area designation kept one company from offering a bid. The subcommittee received four responses in total to a request for proposal for a company to provide emergency medical services.

Aside from Campion and Naugatuck Ambulance, Vintech Management Services LLC of Torrington and American Medical Response of Waterbury responded. Vintech ultimately withdrew its bid because its proposal required use of the borough’s current equipment and facilities, which the borough doesn’t have.

Robert Retallick, general manager of AMR, submitted a letter, rather than a bid, stating the company would like to bid if the borough becomes designated as its own primary serve area responder. The letter stated that the Department of Public Health must the designation.

“To AMR’s knowledge (the Department of Public Health) has never done so, so one would anticipate the process to be lengthy and involved,” Retallick wrote.

Atwood pointed out to the committee that in 2010 Torrington bid out its ambulance services and tried to take away the PSA designation that Campion held in the city. Campion successfully fought the city and won the right to keep its PSA designation.

Rossi told Atwood the committee has been aware of the PSA designation since the beginning.

Rossi directed all questions regarding the PSA to borough attorney Edward “Ned” Fitzpatrick. A message left with Fitzpatrick seeking comment was not returned as of this post.

“Our charge was to examine and fully research the EMS service in the borough of Naugatuck,” Rossi said. “There was extreme concern that it had not been a business process and that was one of our charges, to place it into a business process.”

Rossi explained while the committee worked under the knowledge of the PSA, the legal and technical aspects of the designation falls under the jurisdiction of the attorney and Board of Mayor and Burgesses.

In her statement, Rossi touched on the importance of making the selection of an EMS provider closer to a business model.

“The committee has done a thorough and comprehensive job at creating a business process where previously there was none, and made a thoughtful and careful decision for the safety and benefit of our community,” Rossi wrote.

The borough began looking into the possibility of bidding out its EMS services after Santoro informed the board Naugatuck Ambulance would not be able to provide and pay for a paramedic to be stationed at 246 Rubber Ave. 24 hours a day. He planned to replace the borough paramedic with an intercept system, which would call a paramedic stationed in Waterbury.

Following an outcry from citizens and borough officials, Santoro decided to maintain 24-hour paramedic service in the borough through June 30, when the company’s current contract with Naugatuck runs out.

In an interview in March, Santoro said that Naugatuck Ambulance has been operating in the borough for more than four decades.

“We provide top of the line paramedic services to the citizens and anyone in the borough of Naugatuck,” Santoro said.

Santoro declined comment after the meeting.

In her statement, Rossi explained how difficult of a process it had been to come to this decision and thanked the committee for its hard work.

“Emergency Medical Services is a service that we hope we never will have a need for but if we do, we want the highest level and quality of care for ourselves and loved ones at our most vulnerable and desperate time of need. The process of placing this service into a fair, equitable business process, of the highest integrity, has been a long and arduous process but one that the committee has devoted full effort to,” Rossi wrote.