Tisbury selectmen weigh ambulance staffing options

Tisbury selectmen weigh ambulance staffing options

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Tisbury selectmen met Tuesday and agreed to defer a decision on a shift stipend increase for paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs), recommended by Fire Chief John Schilling and Tisbury Ambulance Service coordinator Tracey Jones. Selectmen postponed their regular bi-weekly meeting last week and met Tuesday at the Tisbury Senior Center.

The proposed new rate would increase the stipend for the 6 pm to 8 am shift from $130 to $200 for paramedics, from $110 to $125 for intermediate EMTs, and from $80 to $100 for basic EMTs.

The state requires that all ambulances be staffed around the clock with a paramedic and an EMT basic, Chief Schilling told The Times in a phone conversation Wednesday. Daytime shifts are filled by Tisbury’s three full-time employees or volunteers paid on an hourly basis.

Chief Schilling said manning the overnight shifts is an ongoing challenge that costs the town in overtime and comp pay when town employees have to cover them. Since Island ambulance personnel often fill shifts in different towns, and Tisbury’s stipend is the lowest, Chief Schilling said an increase would help level the playing field.

The selectmen postponed a decision in order to look at the stipend increase in the context of the town’s entire budget for 2014-2015, selectman chairman Jeff Kristal told The Times in a phone call yesterday. Mr. Kristal said they asked town administrator Jay Grande to explore possible options involving other town ambulance services for discussion at their next meeting, on September 3 at the senior center.

In other business, the selectmen continued a public hearing to September 17 regarding NSTAR’s request to install six mid-span poles on Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road. Mr. Kristal said the selectmen would like to hear from abutters to the project.