Board chairman startled by EMS Commission letter

To the editor:

I was startled by the response from the Trumbull’s EMS Commission to comments made by First Selectman candidate Mike Herbst.

If they think everything is going well then they must not have reviewed the February 2019 Internal Auditor’s report on EMS.

Several issues came to light that alarm me both from a financial and public safety standpoint.

We spent almost a year without an EMS Chief. While First Selectman Tesoro criticized the former First Selectman’s hiring of the service’s first Chief stating that he added too many high-priced positions; she refilled the vacant Chief position and funded an additional supervisory position in her budget.

The internal audit shows revenues dropping from $1,686,033 in fiscal year ending (FYE) 2017 to $1,556,407 in FYE 2018 - a loss of almost $130,000.

Our receivable balance (what is owed us) for FYE 6/30/2017 was $250,279 and for FYE 6/30/2018 was $423,532 - a 69% increase!

Additionally, the report shows that the aged balance grew from $1,752,327 on 6/30/2018 to $1,963,209 by January 31, 2019, an increase of $210,992 - just 7 month later.

I am concerned about response times and the number of calls our EMS responds to versus those that go to contract services like AMR.

According to the 2017 EMS annual report, Trumbull EMS responded monthly to between 93% to 97%, averaging 95% (similar to 2016). In 2018 the monthly call response ranged from 86% to 96% and averaged 92%. If you were one of the 61 calls they couldn’t answer in August 2018, your wait for an ambulance could be far longer than the 7.6 minutes average response time because the ambulance may have come up from Bridgeport. In parts of town that could mean a 15-20-minute wait for an ambulance. I know because of personal experience. An ambulance was dispatched from Bridgeport while my father was having a heart attack.

Recently, the EMS commission stated, “We have never, and never will lack adequate manpower to cover emergency calls and have our extremely competent and experienced paramedics on duty for all given shifts.” On October 15, 2018, First Selectman Tesoro addressed the EMS Commission and noted, “that paramedic staffing has been a problem in the recent past.” The First Selectman in her November 2018 press release regarding Emergency Services stated, “our volunteer force is not as robust as in the past… it is not clear that we are doing so [providing EMS service] in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.”

I am grateful and appreciate the work of volunteers in the area of public safety. We must adapt to new realities and explore ways to keep EMS staffed.

On average we can expect about one call per year per resident in senior housing. With 129 units of senior housing currently under constructions and 300 more recently approved, this could add about 400 more calls per year. What impact will these apartments have on the call answer rate and response time for the rest of the town’s 36,000 residents in the coming year?

Elaine Hammers, chairman (R)

Board of Finance