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County Commission approves new ambulance and dispatch service contracts

HOULTON, Maine — The Aroostook County Commissioners approved dispatch and ambulance service contracts during a conference call meeting held Wednesday, April 15.

Contracts included fire dispatch for St. Agatha and ambulance dispatch for Bridgewater, Blaine and Mars Hill with Central Aroostook County Emergency Medical Service Authority.

The commission also approved a cooperation agreement between Aroostook County and the Central Aroostook Ambulance Service for Township D Range 2, T9R3, T9R4 and E-Plantation.

“These were the agreements that we had with [The Aroostook Medical Center], and of course we all know the story we had about the TAMC deal,” said Community Services Director Paul Bernier, referencing the Northern Light AR Gould Hospital in Presque Isle, which had discontinued providing its ambulance services at the start of 2020. “The numbers are probably not the same, but that’s common right now with all ambulance service providers.”

The townships had requested $4,500 to fund the coverage area, versus payments of $620 from last year, while E-Plantation requested $1,600, double from the deal with Northern Light. The townships had justified the need for increased spending by saying that if ambulances have to go from rural areas, they also need to bring somebody else from mutual aid to cover local regions, which would cost additional money.

“We’ve got to bite the bullet like we’ve done with many ambulance contracts here in the last three to four months,” said Bernier. “That’s my recommendation.”

Commissioner Norman Fournier also mentioned that at the latest Maine County Commissioners Association meeting on April 6, there had been discussion about how to procure additional support funding for the commission due to the economic impact from COVID-19.

“There will be a lot of people looking for additional funding, and we don’t want to get lost in the shuffle here,” said Fournier. He said it was particularly important for the Aroostook County Commission to receive the proper amount of funding for the county jail, the bill for that funding scheduled for July 2021.

He also said the commission was monitoring the bills for high speed internet service and rural areas, and the modification of the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act of 1990.

“Those are the things we’re interested in as counties, but they’re all status quo until the Legislature comes back,” said Fournier.

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