Trumbull EMS is understaffed, the same problem as volunteer services in other Connecticut Towns have, according to a recent analysis of Trumbull EMS.
In addition to improving marketing efforts and responding to more calls, the report recommends creating a new position of EMS executive director, which would pay $70,000 to $80,000 a year.
The Board of Finance will meet Thursday at 7 p.m. in Town Hall to discuss the position.
The fewer calls met, the less money EMS makes, which could lead to problems unless changes are made, said the report's authors, Robert Holdsworth and Leonard Guercia of the Cromwell-based Holdsworth Group. Both said they have years of experience in emergency medical services and in EMS finance.
The final draft of the report has not yet been released.
Some of the preliminary findings include:
- Add full time staffing of 2 crews, increasing payroll hours to 22,720 to ensure all calls are covered. One crew 24/7 365 days; one crew 10:00 am - 8:00 pm Mon – Friday. Volunteers to cover 10:00 pm to 6:00 am and continue to provide support for special events including sports.
- Add a Director’s position at $70-80,000 annually, and leave the Administrative Assistant position. Possibly promote current director Barbara Crandall and supply her with the support she will need.
- Use of one of three Staffing Models: Part time; 24/7/365; Outsourcing.
Some of the criticisms were:
- Need a clear chain of command and response time. There is a disconnect between those who run the day-to-day operations and those who have oversight.
- Create a leadership team e-mail group and make sure everyone is kept informed.
- The EMS Commissioners should have the power to monitor the delivery of EMS performance including response time and calls passed to EMS; Approve and review budgets; Review and approve capital purchases. EMS Commission should not be involved with the day-to-day operations.
- Town should clarify the role of each of the three groups involved in TEMS: TEMS Chief; Deputy Chief; Administrative Support/Human Resources.
First Selectman Weighs In
First Selectman Tim Herbst has said, “The Town of Trumbull intends to move quickly in implementing these reforms so we may ensure that our Emergency Medical Services provide the best possible service and care to our residents.”
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Trumbull's task is especially challenging because of the number of elder care, adult daycare, assisted living and convalescent homes in town, EMS officials have said.
Herbst said he pledges pledged to "do everything possible to assist the Trumbull EMS Commission in hiring a new Chief of Operations in short order."
The report follows a previous study which found that EMS needs to change its staffing structure to ensure it responds to as many calls as possible. Other ambulance services pick up calls that the busy Trumbull EMS cannot meet.
The Holdsworth group conducted interviews of past and present EMS personnel and reviewed financial data concerning billing.
“The Town of Trumbull intends to move quickly in implementing these reforms so we may ensure that Trumbull EMS provides the best possible service and care to our residents. Just like our police and fire departments, our EMS department must also have a chief," Herbst said.
New EMS Commission Members
He added that he would nominate two new commissioners who "would have strong credentials that would serve the Town well."
The current EMS structure creates "too much interference from EMS Commissioners that were making day to day administrative decisions, supplanting their judgment for that of paid personnel hired to run the service.
"The EMS Commission adopts policy and the staff is responsible for day to day operations. This is the litmus test that I will apply to any candidate seeking appointment to the EMS Commission.”
There are seven members of the EMS Commission, who each serve for a term of seven years, Herbst said.
Herbst, members of the Board of Finance and Holdsworth officials all noted that Trumbull EMS volunteers provide an important service and deserve recognition.
He added that between storms and public safety events, a strong emergency response structure is needed.
“The recent weather related emergencies that our Town has experienced has clearly underscored that the EMS service is an integral emergency service provider to the Town and should be on par with our police and fire departments. We must do everything we can to give them the support and resources that they need," Herbst said.
"The recent events in Newtown, Connecticut have also underscored the need for police, fire and EMS personnel to have a core synergy that will allow the Town to meet any public safety challenge that might confront us now and in the future. [Police Chief] Thomas Kiely and I are mutually committed to making sure these reforms are implemented,” the first selectman said.