Auburn, United Ambulance prepare for city transport service

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AUBURN — The city’s new ambulance service is scheduled to begin Oct. 14, and that has the city and United Ambulance making some changes.

Auburn Fire Department is offering transport, with ambulances at the Central Fire Station on Minot Avenue and the Center Street fire station.

Fire Chief Frank Roma said Auburn’s crews are offering the same level of service as United Ambulance.

“It’s pretty much state-of-the-art service, the standard of service we are offering,” Roma said.

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Meanwhile, United Ambulance is getting ready to enact a non-compete clause for its part-time staff. Paul Gosselin, United Ambulance executive director, said personnel who are also Auburn fire employees can no longer work out of the Lewiston and Auburn dispatch areas. United has three bases — Lewiston, Auburn and Bridgton.

“When (Auburn) starts transporting that’s when our non-compete agreement takes effect,” Gosselin said. “They are able to work in our Bridgton base. I know that a few of the employees have talked to our manager there and they will take time at that base.”

Gosselin said Auburn Fire Department employees account for about 10 percent of the company’s emergency transport staff.

“We have more than 200 employees,” he said. “That includes everyone. I have wheelchair drivers and mechanics and support staff, too.”

Gosselin said the non-complete agreement is not new to the company.

“It’s commonplace in this industry and in others,” he said. “We just have not had to use it before. We were never in competition before.”

Auburn sends medically-trained firefighters to most medical emergencies reported in the city. Those crews stabilize patients and hand them off to United Ambulance personnel when they arrive.

The city cannot bill insurance companies for those costs because insurers only pay for transporting patients.

Auburn officials expect the new service will cost the city $720,468 more in the next year but should bring in $987,551.

“This is a service enhancement for Auburn citizens and taxpayers,” City Manager Clinton Deschene said. “Not only will we provide the best first response service, we will transport now. In our opinion, it’s not only best for the patients but it’s the best use of resources in tough financial times.”

It’s not the first time Auburn has considered the move. The city investigated the idea in 2008. United agreed to pay the city $100,000 per year and to provide medical supplies to fire crews providing medical response.

“That agreement ended and we were unable to negotiate an extension, and that led us to this position,” Deschene said.

Under the new model, Auburn fire will take some of its existing rescue staff and have work as emergency medical responders. The city will lease two ambulances, stationing one at Minot Avenue station and one on Center Street.

Roma said the new service begins on Oct. 14. The city will have an open house from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 18 at Central Station, 550 Minot Ave. The new ambulances and the city’s new Engine 1 will be on display and the city will have free pizza and displays for children.

Roma said the new vehicles will be inaugurated in a “wet down” ceremony. Crews will use retiring trucks to spray water on the new vehicles.

“Then we’ll have local kids dry the trucks off,” Roma said. “It’s a real family-friendly event.”

staylor@sunjournal.com

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