The Monroe Volunteer Emergency Medical Service is one step closer to having its own in-house paramedic. The Town Council unanimously approved a two-year contract between Valley Emergency Medical Services, MVEMS and the town of Monroe Tuesday night.
"Approval from the state for our paramedic service is pending," Dennis Condon, the Monroe EMS Commission chairman, said before the vote. "They have to see a contract in play and that it's what the town wants. We don't foresee any issues."
Condon said MVEMS originally wanted to start its new paramedic service on Oct. 1, but now hopes it will happen by Dec. 1.
The first year of the contract would have paid Valley Emergency Medical Services $398,622, but Condon said it may only be for seven months — not a full year. That means it will actually be paid about $232,529. Condon said $350,000 is budgeted for the service.
The second year, the paramedic contract will increase by 2.5%, raising it to $408,587.
Bob Pettinella, executive director of VEMS, said, "Working with Monroe has been awesome. It's truly a professional group. We really look forward to working with EMS and the town of Monroe."
Prior to the council taking action on the contract, Town Attorney John Fracassini gave a legal opinion recommending it be approved.
Town Councilman Frank Lieto asked if the town is protected should a paramedic do something wrong like sleeping in an ambulance or being late to a call for instance.
Condon said the paramedic will be an employee of VEMS, but would be held to Monroe's rules and regulations and be disciplined by EMS Chief Don Smith with termination being the highest punishment. Then it would be up to VEMS to replace the paramedic, he said.
'Coming Back to Haunt Us'
VEMS would own the fly car the paramedic uses and the medications and supplies stored inside it, though it would look like a Monroe vehicle, according to Condon.
The vehicle will be kept at Chalk Hill, until building upgrades are made to Jockey Hollow Firehouse, where MVEMS is headquartered. The firehouse has flooding and mold issues, as well as a faltering roof.
First Selectman Steve Vavrek said the Department of Public Works and CIRMA is negotiating the needed repairs to the facility.
"In our opinion, the original roof quote did not fully address the issues that have been brought forth by EMS," Vavrek told the council. "We had a third party insurance adjuster looking at the extent of the damage and are waiting for their report."
Vavrek said he expects the report by the end of the week and hopes work begins on the building by early December.
Councilwoman Debra Dutches pointed out that there is no funding in the budget for the work at Jockey Hollow Firehouse, but Vavrek said the project has reached emergency status.
Vavrek said if it costs less than $150,000 a fund could be set up by the Board of Finance and the Town Council, but if it's over $150,000 a Town Meeting vote would be necessary.
Vavrek said the town has been penny wise and pound foolish over the years, allowing vehicles and buildings to fall into disrepair.
"We nickel and dime and there is a huge rate of failure with our machines and buildings," he said. "It's coming back to haunt us."