New EMS group making progress

To the editor:

Sometime after the first week of January 2021, 13 area towns received bills for their Houlton Ambulance Service contracts, without any prior warning, that are four times what the towns had budgeted. In other words, the bills went from $16.74 per capita to $74 per capita.  

The Town Managers of Amity, Dyer Brook, Hammond, Hodgdon, Linneus, Littleton, Ludlow, Merrill, Monticello, New Limerick, Oakfield and Smyrna called around to the other towns after learning that their bills were not misprinted. A meeting was organized in Oakfield and everyone agreed to form an exploratory committee to move forward with this new problem. 

Since then there have been weekly meetings and the Southern Aroostook Emergency Medical Service is in the making, otherwise known as SAEMS.  The first meeting determined the chairman as James Griffin and the secretary as Diane Hines, with public relations to be taken on by Hines. Other committee members are Gordon Hagerman, Crystal Folsom, William Dobbins, Randy Rockwell, Paul Stewart, Dennis Merrick and Candy Nevers. 

This is the first outreach to the public to announce some progress made by the committee. This is not a project any of the 13 towns were expecting to take on this year, especially with the limitations around COVID-19. The committee is meeting safely with social distancing and wearing masks. 

The committee has had the honor to have guests from the Maine Legislature, being [Sen.] Trey Stewart and [Rep.] Chris Johansen, taking advisement from these gentlemen around legislative action to set up the organization. Other ambulance service chiefs have also helped the committee with budget advice and organizational advice. 

It is hoped that a public meeting can be scheduled soon to answer questions from the area towns and seek any input to help the process. Meanwhile, lots of progress has been made setting up a budget, determining location of the service, equipment needed and staffing needs. 

SAEMS has a mission to serve its community with representation and a fair budget to all concerned. 

Diane Hines

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