By Elio Gugliotti, Editor
NAUGATUCK — There won’t be an interim CEO running Naugatuck Ambulance for much longer.
The nonprofit agency’s board of directors announced Aug. 30 that Kyle Kelley has been hired as the next chief of service and CEO of Naugatuck Ambulance, Inc. Kelley will start Oct. 4.
Kelley, 36, is the executive director and CEO of Seymour Ambulance Association, a volunteer ambulance company. He’s held this position for the last five years.
Kelley previously worked for Northwest Connecticut Public Safety Communication Center and the former Campion Ambulance, which is now part of Trinity Health of New England EMS. His first EMT job was at Naugatuck Ambulance in 2003.
“I enjoy my job. I enjoy what I do. Seeing the change that Naugatuck is going through, I felt that I’d be able to help them,” said Kelley about his decision to accept the position.
Ken Hanks, president of the Naugatuck Ambulance board and the borough’s deputy fire chief, said Kelley has extensive experience including overseeing capital projects, bill collection, and training and hiring personnel.
Naugatuck Ambulance interim CEO Jeremy Rodorigo said Kelley is experienced in all operational aspects of an EMS agency and has the knowledge necessary to improve the agency.
“I think he’s the right guy for the job,” Rodorigo said.
Hanks said the board didn’t advertise the position. He said the board considered several applicants who submitted resumes. Based on Kelley’s reputation and interview, Hanks said the board felt he was the right person for the job to rebuild Naugatuck Ambulance.
Naugatuck Ambulance is a private agency that is separate from the borough government. Hanks said Kelley will be a Naugatuck Ambulance employee. Kelley will be paid $115,000 a year and receive health benefits, Hanks said.
Kelley takes over at a time of transition for Naugatuck Ambulance.
Former longtime Naugatuck Ambulance President Larry Santoro and board of director members Susan Griffin and John Baldelli resigned Aug. 10 amid a controversy over the number of calls the agency was passing to surrounding towns for mutual aid. A new board, made up of mostly borough officials, was formed and subsequently named Rodorigo interim CEO.
The moves made Aug. 10 gave the borough more oversight of Naugatuck Ambulance because its own officials are now on the board. Naugatuck Ambulance remains a separate agency, but has the financial backing of the borough now that officials have more of a say in its operations.
Officials are striving to increase service by having two ambulance crews and a paramedic in a “fly car” — a separate vehicle that allows a paramedic to get to scenes quicker — available 24/7.
Rodorigo said the agency has recently hired eight new part-time EMTs and has about 22 EMTs who are mostly part time. He said there are two crews and a paramedic available about 90% of the time, but there’s still a struggle to staff some shifts to the level officials want. He added the agency will also lose about six part-time EMTs who are going back to college.
“Everyone is short EMTs everywhere,” Rodorigo said.
The agency also recently hired Gretchen Carlson, formerly of Beacon Hose Co. No. 1 in Beacon Falls, as its administrative assistant, Hanks said. Carlson and Kelley are both EMTs and will be able to jump in and respond to calls during peak hours.
Kelley said he wants to continue building Naugatuck Ambulance back up and return the agency to the strong position it was in when he worked there almost 20 years ago. He said he also wants to get Naugatuck Ambulance more involved in the community.
Kelley, who lives in Seymour with his wife and two children, said it was a bittersweet decision to take the job at Naugatuck Ambulance. He said he plans to continue volunteering as a firefighter for Citizens’ Engine Co. No. 2 in Seymour and volunteer for Seymour Ambulance.
“I am happy to go to Naugatuck and I’m sad, to a point, to leave Seymour,” said Kelley, who added Seymour Ambulance has done a lot of great things for him personally and as an association.
“I’m sure they will continue to do great things,” he said.