Four towns get new ambulance service | News

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Four towns get new ambulance service

ROCKPORT, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --  People in the Camden area face a big change as of Monday -- after more than 70 years, they have a new ambulance service.

Northeast Mobile Health Service has taken over emergency ambulance service for Camden, Rockport, Hope and Lincolnville as of midnight July 1.

The towns voted last month to make the change because the subsidy to continue operating the non-profit Camden First Aid Association (CFAA) became unaffordable. CFAA announced last fall it was facing severe financial problems for a variety of reasons, and would need to increase the $58,000 annual operating subsidy it received from the towns.

During the winter, leaders of the non-profit said that subsidy would need to increase to $400,000 per year to keep up with rising costs. As a result, the towns asked for other bids for the service, and Northeast had the winning bid - asking for a subsidy of just $28,000 per year. The company says it can operate far more efficiently, because it's a much larger operation than Camden First Aid.

Leaders of both organizations say people in the four towns will continue to have high quality emergency service, and will still see a lot of familiar faces if they call for help. Northeast has hired about a dozen staff members from Camden First Aid.

Northeast Chief Kevin McGinnis calls it "Hometown EMS". Paramedic Kevin Montoya, who worked the final shift at CFA Sunday night and then the first shift at Northeast Monday morning, said he has already heard comments from local people who are pleased the new service will include a lot of familiar faces providing the care.

McGinnis says they also hope to be able to provide "community para-medicine", a national trend that uses EMS staff to provide some care to patients at home, so they won't need to go to a hospital.

Northeast is in discussions with Camden First Aid about possibly buying CFA's building in Camden as an operations base, but no deal has yet been announced. CFA director Julia Libby says the organization needs to sell the facility or turn it over to the bank within 90 days.