The city may be obtaining a firefighter ambulance-based service for Basic Life Support – an idea most councillors appeared to be onboard with during Monday’s City Council meeting at City Hall. The agenda item was sponsored by Councillor-at-Large Michael Marchese.
Ward 1 Councillor Wayne Matewsky said he’s a big supporter of having Everett’s ambulance service in this community run by the Everett Fire Dept. Matewsky said he was looking at a memorandum from December 2021, which explains that an ambulance was ordered in May, and it’s currently at the Hancock Street Fire Station.
Fire Chief Scott Dalrymple said the ambulance should be up and running within the next three to four months, if the proposal passes.
Matewsky asked if the original plan was to eliminate the private ambulance service (Cataldo) that they have now. Dalrymple said if it’s available, Cataldo would still be actively operating, especially for Advanced Life Support calls. He added that the City of Everett handles the logistics for negotiations, and they’re in the process of finalizing it. Firefighters will be manning the day-to-operations.
Matewsky was concerned about response time between Cataldo Ambulance and the Everett Fire Department. “I, for one, experienced that it’s a matter of minutes,” said Matewsky, referring to a time when he needed an ambulance transport. “Everyone here probably knows that the Fire Department is there before Cataldo Ambulance.”
Matewsky said sometimes it’s a 10-minute difference, which is an unfortunate thing. He added that firefighters perform a lot of duties, including saving lives with the use of Narcan. There were approximately 112 overdoses last year, according to Dalrymple.
Dalrymple said the fire engines would respond to calls, along with the ambulances, just like they do now. “You’d have my support, and as long as this ambulance is serving this community, I’d feel a lot better,” Matewsky said.
Ward 2 Councillor Stephanie Martins asked if their agreement had been settled since the councillors’ tour of the station. Dalrymple said he couldn’t discuss negotiations; however, they are waiting to sign the documents.
The chief said they currently have 55 staff members, with nine currently in training. “More than 55 percent will be certified EMTs,” Dalrymple said. “A slight delay was the negotiations.”
He told the council that drivers will begin to see the ambulance on the road for training; however, it won’t be operating until roughly three to four months.
Hanlon estimated that within two months 65 percent will be EMTs, with the nine additional trainees.
Dalrymple added that he’d like to see multiple ambulances in the city eventually. “We were one of the first Metro North communities to stand up a municipal ambulance,” Dalrymple said. “Everyone is watching us to see what we do.”
Ward 6 Councillor Al Lattanzi said he thinks the city needs more than one city ambulance, adding that he’ll support it 100 percent. “I’d like to stop by and see it at the Hancock Station,” Lattanzi said.
The chief welcomed him and others to stop by, as the station is open 24/7.
The average cost was $250,000 to $280,000 per ambulance when they purchased it; however, the purchase price now is $350,000 with between an 18-24 months estimated wait.
Marchese asked if the people who work as EMTs get paid a special rate. Dalrymple said people with a master’s certification will receive a two percent increase in pay.
They figured the ambulance would handle about 1,800 calls a year or one -third of the city’s volume. Some more serious calls would get transferred to paramedics.
Councillors postponed the item to the next meeting and asked for the financial cost of running the city ambulance.