LIVERMORE — Selectpersons voted 3-1 Tuesday to suspend the Fire Department’s EMS license, effective Nov. 12, because of state-mandated COVID-19 vaccinations.

Selectpersons Mark Chretien, Brett Deyling and Randy Ouellette voted in favor; Tracey Martin opposed. Scott Richmond abstained because he is a member of the Fire Department.

Fire Chief Donald Castonguay requested the suspension because of the Nov. 1 deadline for Gov. Janet Mills’ COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The license covers the entire department, even though some of the firefighters aren’t emergency medical responders, he said. The issue is a stipulation that limits responders to no more than 15 minutes contact with a patient, he noted.

“I don’t really want to lose any firefighters,” Castonguay said.

The department would still be able to respond, he said. “Most of the time we assess them and then back off when the ambulance gets there, unless we do CPR.”

Anyone can do CPR, he noted. “We’re still going to be available for lift assists — basically putting the patient on a gurney and putting them in the ambulance.”

Four of the department’s 16 firefighters aren’t vaccinated, Castonguay said.

Losing people is asinine, losing the license is preferable, Deyling said.

Emergency medical responders will continue taking measures to keep their licenses, Castonguay said.

The department only responds to medical calls in Livermore. There were 60 last year, he noted.

Response time was a concern for Martin, especially given days when NorthStar isn’t staffing the Livermore base. “They don’t have staff, it’s 30 minutes from Farmington,” she said.

“Now you have to have a shot,” Castonguay said. “They don’t make crap for money. Something’s got to happen to pay these people more money.”

“We’re giving up a service that we could potentially be doing with 75% of the people versus 100%,” Martin said. “If it’s your family member who needs emergency treatment, do you want to be the person who doesn’t respond or do you want to be the person voting today saying, ‘I’m sorry, because we’re going to lose four people we’re just not going to provide that service anymore?'”

They are the Fire Department, not an emergency rescue crew, Deyling said. “If we lose a quarter of our Fire Department, what does that do when we have to respond to a fire?”

The department once responded to fires and only serious car accidents, and there was a lot less paperwork, Richmond said. “We were lucky to have 20 calls a year when I started, now we probably have 20 a month.”

“I have a feeling (the state) is going to back off on this,” Castonguay said.

“They’re going to have to do something,” Deyling said.

“These doctors and nurses have dealt with this through the worst of it,” Castonguay said.

“I’m concerned with suspending our license,” Martin said.

A 30-day notice must be given to the public, Richmond said.

That would make the suspension effective Nov. 12, Martin said.

“I assume the firefighters you have could take a temporary leave of absence,” Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller said.

Ouellette said he would support Castonguay’s request, “if you think that’s in the best interest of the town.”

“It’s not in the best interest of the town, but my hands are tied,” Castonguay said.

Livermore is not the only town looking at this, towns everywhere are facing it, Miller said.

In other business, Miller said he was notified earlier Tuesday that the Maine Center of Disease Control & Prevention has identified a case of West Nile virus in a mosquito pool in Livermore but could not confirm the exact location where the specimens were collected at the end of August. The town’s health officer and Regional School Unit 73 have been notified, he said.

The CDC is recommending residents:

• Cover exposed skin when outdoors

• Drain sources of artificial standing water where mosquitoes lay eggs

• Use federal Environmental Protection Agency-approved repellents

• Avoid being outdoors during dawn/dusk when mosquitoes are most active

• Use screens on doors and windows

• Consult with an integrated pest management specialist

• Consider rescheduling outdoor events

For more information contact the CDC at (207) 287-8016.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: