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Trumbull EMS Finances in the Black

The service plans to ask for more part-time EMTs in its budget proposal.

After reporting that it was $111,000 in the red,  is in the black and wants to hire eight part-time EMTs.

Citing a reduction in volunteers and problems with collecting fees, TEMS said it needed more staff to keep two ambulances going.

"We can cover a lot of calls with two crews. You're always going to have one more call than you can handle," said Director Barbara Crandall.

The corps debated their proposal with the Board of Finance recently, which questioned the TEMS' business model. 

"We need flexibility," said John Butkus, the recently-elected chairman of the Trumbull EMS Commission.

Part of the plan is to set hours as needed for the part-timers.

While the finance board agreed that more staff is necessary and praised the TEMS for its service, they questioned the irregular hours proposed.

"People need job security," said Chairwoman Elaine Hammers. "It's a little hap-hazard."

Butkus said the service is based on "neighbors helping neighbors," and that he wanted to continue that tradition.

"The goal for this upcoming year is to analyze our business model. We have to adapt to the new conditions here in town," said Butkus, adding that he wants the service to be "expense neutral."

TEMS had said Trumbull is difficult to cover because it has many seniors in senior housing and adult daycare and convalescent homes.

Crandall estimated that volunteers covered 9,000 hours last year and that staffing problems result in 25 percent of calls covered by other services. The finance board will also explore switching billing services to collect outstanding debts.

Hammers noted that she would like a better evaluation on the bill/collection agency since it is not easy to track down where the patient is residing. She added that the third-party billing company is not as aggressive as it could be. 

Still, the finance board did not fault TEMS service. It is suffering as are other volunteer services. 

"The service you deliver is first class," said finance board member Tom Tesoro.

TEMS will present its budget proposal to the Board of Finance on Feb. 21 at 8:30 a.m.

Also, TEMS is holding an EMT-B class from March 5 to June 16. It runs every Monday and Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and on Saturdays To Be Determined, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Additional hours for hospital rotation and ambulance ride time required.

It costs $600 and includes book, workbook, CPR card and stethoscope to be paid by Money Order, but excludes state testing fees. The cost is $525 for volunteers of emergency services with letter of affiliation. Partial reimbursement is offered after a year of service as EMT at Trumbull EMS. Applicants must be 16 years old with parental consent required for anyone under 18.

Paul G. Littlefield February 07, 2012 at 03:29 PM
I applaud John Butkus' good thinking about flexible staffing. It's strange how finance people aways see emergences only happening 9-5. Maybe Hammers would like the Council to pass legislation, regulating the hours when Seniors are to have medical emergences. Fire and police have the same staffing problems as fires and police incidents don't occur on a regularly scheduled basis. Police are staffed 24/7 with paid staff. Fire departments are also staffed 24/7 but are largely volunteers. The EMS has been volunteer since I can remember and I feel confident that John Butkus and his colleagues can come up with a flexible but effective staffing plan that will cover 95% of the yearly calls. His ideas for "expense neutral" EMS operation is laudable.

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