Borough pays bill for safety service

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Contingency funds used for emergency medical dispatch fees

NAUGATUCK — The borough has decided to change course and pay off an overdue bill in order to ensure residents continue to have access to an emergency service.

The Joint Boards of Finance and Mayor and Burgesses voted Tuesday to transfer $39,717 from the contingency account to a new account, emergency medical dispatch fees, to pay a bill owed to Northwest Public Safety of Prospect.

The company provides emergency medical dispatch, a service required in Connecticut, which entails trained dispatchers providing medical advice to 911 callers until emergency medical technicians arrive. If a patient needs CPR, for example, the dispatcher can walk a caller through that process.

Board of Finance Chairwoman Diane Scinto said the service differs from the borough’s police or fire dispatch, which are primarily tasked with ensuring the first responders get to the right location and know what to expect upon arrival.

According to Scinto the Naugatuck Ambulance Association had paid the bill with money allocated from the borough until this fiscal year.

The borough and the ambulance company have been at odds the past few years, and the borough hasn’t allocated any funds for the ambulance company, which is a private, nonprofit organization, the past two years.

In turn, the association did not pay the bill for the emergency medical dispatch service, borough officials said.

The decision to pay the bill came a week after the joint boards voted against it.

On Monday Northwest Connecticut Public Safety Communications Center Executive Director Susan Webster sent the borough a letter saying if payment was not remitted to the company the service would be terminated.

“They are going to cease and desist the EMD service effective Jan. 1 if we do not pay it,” Deputy Mayor Tamath Rossi said.

Rossi said the borough could pay the bill out of the contingency account and try to seek reimbursement from Naugatuck Ambulance.

“But ultimately we do stand to lose this service if it’s not paid,” she said.

Burgess Patrick Scully asked if there had been any feedback from the Naugatuck Ambulance Association when the borough approached them about this bill.

“They are not going to pay for it,” Mayor Robert Mezzo said.

Rossi said, according to the state, the borough is responsible for paying for the service, regardless of who actually pays for it.

“The legislation states that we must provide it. It does not specifically say we must pay, but we’re backed in a corner now where if we don’t pay it we cease to have that service provided,” Rossi said.

After a lengthy discussion on the matter the joint boards voted unanimously in favor of transferring the money.

Burgess Rocky Vitale said, in the end, it’s about ensuring residents continue to receive the service.

“Bottom line is it’s a service we must provide to our citizens, we have to pay for this, and if we have to do something later then we follow up later. At this point we have no choice,” Vitale said.

The Republican-American contributed to this article.