PARIS — Saying there are too many unknowns, the Oxford County Commission declined to support a plan that would put all municipal emergency medical services under the control of their respective county.

The proposal before the Legislature would have the EMS agencies overseen by county government, not their respective municipality that determines how best to provide those services.

While County Administrator Donald Durrah said there could be some merit to consolidation, it was important to see what the plan looks like before he could back such an initiative.

Essentially, making EMS a county-centric agency would create a new department for county government.

“That has the potential to be bigger than the Sheriff’s Office,” commission Chairman Timothy Turner of Buckfield said.

On Dec. 1, the Maine Board of Emergency Medical Services unanimously endorsed the plan. Brent Libby of Windham, chairman of the of the EMS board, sent a resolution to all legislators seeking their support. The resolution seeks “to have emergency medical services recognized as essential services at the county level throughout the state.”


It further states “where there are 16 established county governments that know their area and could provide equitable and robust services to all the citizens and communities within their jurisdiction, placing the requirement at any lower level of local government than the county level, may ultimately detract from the system and prove to be a detriment for sustainability.”

The resolution was sent to commissioners by state Rep. John Andrews, Libertarian of Paris, who was seeking the commissioners’ opinion to determine if he should support the resolution.

Commissioners had a lot of questions and reservations on the initiative.

“There are a lot of things we need to consider before we jump on the bandwagon,” Durrah said.

He wasn’t sure such a structure could work in Oxford County because much of the emergency medical services to municipalities are provided by two private companies — Pace ambulance based in Norway and Medcare ambulance based in Mexico.

Turner wondered what would happen in communities where firefighters double as EMS personnel.


Billing for ambulance services throughout the county would significantly increase administrative costs.

“It’s like trying to build a house on a foundation which hasn’t been built yet,” Durrah said.

Turner said it should not be a top-down approach. He added that the county should only look at it if towns are asking for assistance.

In other business, commissioners gave permission to Durrah to bid on vehicles without the commissioners’ prior approval, as long as the purchase price is within the budget.

Due to a shortage of vehicles on car lots, the county may need to act quickly and bid instead of waiting for a couple of weeks for the next commission meeting.

Commissioner Stephen Merrill of Norway said he supported the proposal “as long as we’re on budget, Donny can bid without our approval.”


The board gave final approval for the $12.8 million county budget for 2022. County taxes are expected to rise by 3.5%.

Commissioners authorized spending $17,550 for interior painting of courthouse walls that were damaged. They also approved soliciting proposals for an engineering study to replace the HVAC system in the county jail. It would require some structural work, Durrah said.

Several personnel moves were approved. Renee Bisbee was hired as a full-time corrections officer. The resignations of corrections officers Jacob Doyon and Jarrod Wiswell were approved, as was Jeffrey Burt’s as a dispatcher at the Oxford County Regional Communications Center.

Those moves leave dispatch with three openings and the jail with two.

The board also re-elected Turner as chairman for his third consecutive year.

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