The town of Richmond probably is sticking with its ambulance provider for at least the remaining year of the contract because it saw response times improve after the company, North East Mobile Health Services, began stationing an ambulance in the town during the day.

The Board of Selectmen was considering putting the contract out to bid again when North East broke the contract by moving an ambulance from Dresden to the company’s Topsham base, more than 17 miles away from Richmond. The contract requires the ambulance provider to station an ambulance in Dresden during the overnight hours, but the company stopped doing that at the start of July after losing Dresden’s ambulance contract to the city of Gardiner.

Peter Warner, chairman of the board, said the town probably will not look for a replacement ambulance provider because of the improved response times. However, the board plans to send a newsletter to residents in the next couple weeks, outlining the changes and asking if they would like the town to go in a different direction, Warner said.

At its meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Town Office, the board will discuss the response times for this month and possible locations where the company could station an ambulance during the winter.

The contract requires an average response time of 17 minutes, but it rose to 18.5 minutes in July after North East moved the ambulance previously stationed in Dresden during the overnight hours to its base in Topsham, according to Clarence Cummins, vice chairman of the board, who met with North East representatives Monday.

Because the company began about two weeks ago stationing an ambulance during the day in town, the average response time in August has declined to 15.6 minutes, close to what the company had previously, Cummins said.

The town probably still will issue a request for proposals next year when the current contract expires, but Richmond could end up choosing North East again, Warner said.

“Certainly if they still met the needs of the town, we just as well would stay with them,” he said.

Richmond switched from the city of Gardiner’s emergency service to North East in 2008 because Gardiner had sent unpaid bills to Richmond and North East offered to take care of any bills not covered by the patients or their insurance.

Gardiner’s service, which provides EMS and rescue service to eight communities, tried bringing Richmond back last year by offering free service, as North East does. However, because the Richmond selectmen already had voted in 2012 to use North East for service, even though it hadn’t negotiated a new contract, they voted to stick with the private company.

Gardiner officials want to secure the contract again because it would increase the ambulance service revenue, allowing it to lower the amounts all the other communities pay.

Richmond also is operating without a town manager. Marian Anderson, who had been town manager since 2009, started her new job as Wiscasset’s town manager Monday.

Warner said the town has completed a round of interviews and plans to do another round next week. He expects to have a new manager by the end of September. The board has been assisting the town in the interim, he said.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @paul_koenig

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