NAUGATUCK — As the EMS Oversight Committee continues its work, the topic turned to ambulance call times and how to receive comments from the public.
The committee, which is charged with ensuring borough residents are receiving the best possible ambulance services, was formed earlier this year after the borough had sought bids for emergency medical services. Campion Ambulance offered the lowest bid over Naugatuck Ambulance, which currently provides emergency services in Naugatuck.
A vote to award Campion Ambulance the job was postponed by the Board of Mayor and Burgesses in May due to legal concerns over Naugatuck Ambulance holding the Primary Service Area designation for the borough. That designation can only be changed by the state or if Naugatuck Ambulance voluntarily gives it up.
The committee met last week and continued its discussion on call times and how to move forward with receiving compliments or complaints.
Deputy Mayor Tamath Rossi, who chairs the commission, explained that the commission received a report from Northwest Connecticut Public Safety Communication Center, which is the dispatcher for Naugatuck Ambulance, regarding call times.
Larry Santoro, president of Naugatuck Ambulance, told the committee that he could help them understand the report before they even looked at it.
“I can give you answers to some of the questions you’re probably going to come up with,” Santoro said.
He pointed out the committee would find what might be considered an above average response time.
“From the paperwork they initially sent you, there’s no way you can determine if the car was responding from our base on Rubber Avenue or Waterbury or St. Mary’s Hospital,” Santoro said.
Santoro explained that the committee might see that it took 15 minutes to respond to a call on May Street, which might seem like a long time, but it was due to the fact the ambulance had just left the hospital.
The committee also discussed how to deal with any complaints, compliments, or comments that were directed toward Naugatuck Ambulance.
“We have to create some sort of fair, balance, and consistent procedure for complaints, compliments, concerns,” Rossi said.
Rossi said that she did not believe that receiving informal complaints or compliments would be beneficial to either the borough or committee.
“I don’t want to handle them in that manner. I don’t think that that’s fair. I think that, in order to handle them, there needs to be a process in place,” Rossi said.
Rossi said Fire Chief Ken Hanks, who is vice chairman of the committee, put together a form that could be used by citizens to make either compliments or complaints about their experience with the ambulance.
As the committee moves forward, committee member Dr. Stanley Dudrick felt simply starting the committee was a step in the right direction.
“I think it’s been irregular not to have an oversight committee,” Dudrick said. “The oversight committee is not in response particularly to bad experiences as much as it is to regularize the process of how it should be done, how it should be evaluated, quality control, future planning, future budgeting.”
Dudrick explained that the committee was not out to just find fault with Santoro.
“This is not some kind of committee arranged to point the guns at this man who is trying to do a job,” Dudrick said.