WOODSTOCK – PACE Ambulance in Norway will begin serving Woodstock on May 2 after voters at Monday’s annual town meeting opted to drop Tri-town Rescue.

Town Manager Vern Maxfield said the new provider will start serving Woodstock 30 days after a public notice is posted in a local newspaper.

The 61-25 vote switched ambulance service from Tri-Town Rescue, based in West Paris, which has covered the town for 27 years.

“Obviously, it does deal us a bit of a financial blow,” Tri-Town director Allison Ross said of Woodstock’s decision. “We have every intention of keeping on as business as usual. I don’t think it’s going to be detrimental by any stretch of the imagination.”

Tri-Town’s coverage area includes West Paris, Greenwood and Milton Plantation, and the service shares coverage of Sumner with Buckfield Rescue.

Bob Hand, director of PACE, said the service has kept an ambulance at the Woodstock fire station from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the ski season. PACE stages at Sunday River Ski Resort during the season, and the ambulance at Woodstock will proceed to the resort if a patient is brought down to the hospital.

“We’re going to try to keep it up there in the summer as well,” Hand said.

Hand said an ambulance will not be stationed in Woodstock overnight except in the possibility of a major emergency, such as traffic issues resulting from a storm.

Ross said the two services provide mutual aid and will back each other up on emergency calls if needed.

PACE covers Norway, Paris, Harrison, Hebron and Otisfield. The service collects its revenue from patient billing, and offered to provide service to Woodstock without a subsidy.

“Our intention is to keep this zero subsidy forever,” Hand said, but that may change “if something catastrophic were to happen,” such as insurance companies no longer paid for ambulance transports.

The majority of Tri-Town’s revenue comes from patient billing, though it also collects 20 percent of its income through town subsidies due to a lower volume of calls. The service charges an annual subsidy, to be paid quarterly, of $12.50 for each person in the town based on the 2000 census.

The service collects $21,525 from West Paris, $10,025 from Greenwood, $7,300 from Sumner, and $1,537.50 from Milton Plantation. It had previously collected $16,337.50 from Woodstock.

Sumner voters decided last August to continue with Tri-Town, Town Clerk Sue Runes said.

Greenwood Town Manager Kim Sparks said ambulance service was discussed at the town meeting last week before the community safety budget was approved as written.

“We had a lot of residents stand up and speak to how well Tri-Town had helped them out,” Sparks said.

Ross said Tri-Town is considering entering into written contracts with the towns it serves.

“It’s definitely something that we’ve discussed and we’ve discussed with our attorney. We probably will go that route,” she said. “I think everybody wants it done that way for security.”

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