Board tables vote on EMS contract over legal concerns

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The Board of Mayor and Burgesses tabled a vote on awarding an emergency management services contract for next fiscal year to Campion Ambulance of Waterbury Tuesday night due to legal concerns. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — The Board of Mayor and Burgesses tabled the decision on awarding an emergency management services contract for next fiscal year to Campion Ambulance of Waterbury over Naugatuck Volunteer Ambulance Corps Tuesday night.

Due to possible legal concerns surrounding the ownership of Naugatuck’s Primary Service Area (PSA) designation, the board felt that it was wise to discuss the awarding of the contract in an executive session.

Naugatuck Ambulance currently holds the PSA designation for Naugatuck, which is awarded and controlled by the state Department of Public Health

Borough attorney Edward “Ned” Fitzpatrick described the PSA as being similar to a franchise.

“It’s a service area that’s designated by the Department of Public Health for certain sections, municipalities mostly. There are procedures attached to these primary service areas for who can operate in them, when they can operate, what level of service is provided, and what’s the procedure for changing a license, surrendering a license, or terminating a license,” Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick explained while these service areas are controlled by the Department of Public Health, there are certain powers that municipalities have over the service area designations. He said there is a process to changing the designation that is laid out within state regulations, and it is not just one issue that can force a change.

Fitzpatrick declined to expound upon that any further, saying the board would have the conversation in executive session.

According to state regulations, a municipality can petition the department to immediately revoke a responder’s assignment in emergency situations when the organization’s performance is endangering citizens. Not more than once every three years, the municipality may also petition for a change if the responder’s performance is “unsatisfactory.”
The health department can hold a hearing to determine whether revoking the assignment would be best for patients, according to the regulations.

The recommendation for Campion came from the EMS Subcommittee after its meeting on May 9.

Deputy Mayor Tamath Rossi, who chairs the subcommittee, said that four parties were interested in bidding at the beginning of the search.

American Medical Response of Waterbury submitted a letter of interest. The company did not submit a bid due to Naugatuck Ambulance holding the PSA.

Vintech of Torrington submitted a bid to provide personnel only, not realizing that the borough did not own its own equipment. Vintech later withdrew its bid.

Naugatuck Ambulance entered a bid of $296,000 for the 2012-13 fiscal year, while Campion Ambulance submitted a bid of $96,000. Neither of those bids included the price for dispatch, which currently costs approximately $100,000.

The decision came down to Campion Ambulance and Naugatuck Ambulance Corps., which currently provides emergency medical services to the borough and has for decades.

“Naugatuck Ambulance will continue its 50-year tradition of providing the top quality EMS services to the borough of Naugatuck and its citizens,” Naugatuck Ambulance President Larry Santoro said. “Our employees are all dedicated to that task and have the best interest of their patients in mind at all times.”

Santoro declined further comment.

Throughout the search for bids, the EMS Subcommittee has been aware of the concerns stemming from the PSA designation.

In a prepared statement released following the subcommittee’s meeting, 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.

The Republican American contributed to this article.