By Tony Hallett (via Lincoln News)
ENFIELD – In an emergency, every second counts. In the case of cardiac arrest, paramedic response time can be the difference between life and death.
Howland Fire Chief Josh McNally, who has spent his entire life in emergency response, knows this and continues his campaign to offer life-saving services to the towns in the area as the town used to do when Penobscot Valley Hospital ran the EMS service.
Earlier this month, Passadumkeag voted to have Howland provide that service once again. On Monday, Enfield selectmen will be asked the same question, after the issue has been tabled at least twice during regular meetings. Currently, the town contracts with East Millinocket, which runs an ambulance service from Lincoln.
“We are able to offer the same level of care (as East Millinocket),” McNally said. “Where we are a bordering town, we want to offer the service to them like we had all the years we were hospital-based.”
After PVH surrendered its ambulance service, Howland was unable to maintain a full-time staff so East Millinocket picked up the contract. Last year, McNally began building the Howland emergency services into a fully-staffed, full-time department. Now, with 24-hour coverage and a team that is trained as both EMS and firefighters, there is no difference in what he can provide compared to a station that is further away.
Enfield already contracts most of its fire coverage to Howland due to its proximity, with Lincoln covering only the furthest points of the Enfield Road. With Howland providing the fire coverage, McNally said it only makes sense for Enfield to opt-in for ambulance coverage.
“It is a shame to have the fire department over there and not the ambulance service,” he said.
So far, opposition to his proposal has come from Enfield Selectman Rick Smart, who is a paid employee of East Millinocket ambulance service. Smart will have to abstain from any discussion or vote on the proposal due to rules regarding conflict of interest.
The meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m.