WATERVILLE — A Delta Ambulance official has submitted a proposal that he says would address concerns about ambulance response times and reimburse the city for backup services — and would not require the city to buy two used ambulances for $131,000.

The proposal, which Delta Executive Director Tim Beals, issued late last week to city councilors, Fire Chief Shawn Esler, City Manager Michael Roy and Mayor Nick Isgro, says Delta would provide the city with a state-licensed ambulance to be used by the Fire Department to transport patients if Delta is delayed, and Delta would maintain that ambulance.

The proposal is “cost neutral” to the city, meaning Waterville would not have to spend additional funds to support the ambulance and provides revenue equal to what Esler had proposed, according to Beals.

“This is a great opportunity for Delta and the city of Waterville to collaborate,” Beals said Monday. “If two of our organizations collaborate and work together, we can create something really unique and it can be a quality-driven, high-performance system that serves as a model for other regions of the state.”

Esler said Monday he could not yet comment on the Delta proposal because he had not had time to evaluate it or ascertain how the plan might affect Fire Department operations.

Rescuers from the Waterville Fire Department and Delta Ambulance respond to a medical call on Main Street in downtown Waterville. Morning Sentinel file photo by Michael G. Seamans

“I appreciate Delta’s work on this proposal, and I will be giving a report to the Fire Department Study Committee next week,” Esler said. “I have confidence that Delta Ambulance and Waterville Fire-Rescue will continue to work together and provide high quality, professional EMS services to the city, whether we purchase our own ambulances or whether they provide them.


“At the end of the day, all the work our committee has done will be a huge win for our residents and our EMS system, and this could positively contribute to someone’s quality of life.”

Esler said his goal is to provide ambulance transport to the hospital when ambulances are delayed or unavailable.

The council voted 6-0 on Oct. 15 to buy two used ambulances for $131,000. Isgro vetoed the vote three days later, saying more time was needed for the council and public to gather more information about the plan.

Councilors on Nov. 6 voted 7-0 to postpone a decision about whether to override the veto. On Nov. 19, the council again voted to postpone consideration to Dec. 3.

Waterville City Manager Mike Roy

City Manager Michael Roy said Monday the council on Dec. 3 will again consider whether to override Isgro’s veto. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in the Chace Community Forum at the Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons at 150 Main St.

“The plan, as I understand it, is for Tim Beals and Shawn Esler to meet this week and, tentatively, for Shawn to come back to the Fire Department Study Committee next Monday night prior to the council meeting Tuesday, Dec. 3, with the hope that the committee be prepared to make some kind of recommendation to the council,” Roy said.


Roy, a longtime former member of Delta’s board of directors, said he thinks the council will discuss Delta’s proposal Dec. 3.

“I think the city should do everything it can to see if this latest proposal from Delta can address, at least on a short-term basis, the need for a backup ambulance,” Roy said.

“This would allow the city to have more time to fully investigate a long-term solution. We appreciate Delta’s good-faith attempt at searching for a solution — either for the short or long term.”

The Proposal

The council has much to consider between the Delta proposal and the presentation Esler gave last week, according to Isgro.

“Certainly, Delta’s proposal deserves serious consideration, and at the very least, the Fire Study Committee has an obligation to the city and its residents to formally respond to this proposal giving us their thought process as to why they would accept or reject this offer,” Isgro said.


“This conversation is exactly the kind of discussion we had hoped the original veto would have prompted, and I’m glad they are happening now.”

Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro

At the Nov. 19 council meeting, Esler presented his plans for the city to provide backup ambulance service. That plan was introduced last month by Councilors Mike Morris, D-Ward 1, and Jay Coelho, D-Ward 5.

Morris and Coelho said the city’s having its own ambulance service would generate revenue, enable the Fire Department to take patients to hospitals when ambulances are delayed and ensure better safety for residents.

Esler said Nov. 19 he believes a problem exists with ambulance delays and availability and acknowledged he had missed the mark by not previously explaining the plans were for the Fire Department to serve as backup for when ambulances are not available to take people to hospitals. The intent, he said, is not to replace Delta.

Delta, which serves 17 communities in greater Waterville and greater Augusta, is licensed to take people to hospitals and its ambulances always have a paramedic on board. The Fire Department is not licensed to take people to hospitals, though it responds to accidents and other events and treats patients until Delta arrives.

Council Chairman Sydney Mayhew, R-Ward 4, said Monday he has heard from many residents and businesspeople who have urged that city officials take time to look at the Fire Department’s plan for ambulance backup and at Delta’s recent proposal.


“That’s the kind of approach I urge the council to take,” Mayhew said.

He said the proposal Delta submitted last week deserves consideration and the council decision should not be rushed.

“I think it’s just one more proposal that may require more time by the committee and the council to come to a final vote.” he said.

Like Esler, Mayhew said the city would serve only as backup and does not plan to develop a full-blown transport service.

“In no way do we want to be a primary ambulance service,” Mayhew said.



The plan Beals submitted last week reports infrequent delays in ambulances arriving at scenes. The Fire Department has presented the problem as one involving response time. Delta officials, however, say they have received mixed messages, and are asking whether the issue might be about Fire Department staffing, delays or revenue potential for the department.

A toy ambulance hangs from the rearview mirror of a Delta Ambulance at the company’s facility in Waterville. Delta currently provides ambulance service to 17 communities, including Waterville.

“This has been a moving target as to the real problem,” the proposal reads. “There has been no public discussion on the topic. Delta is a community based organization (not a private business) that has faithfully served the city for 47 years without taxpayer subsidy.”

In other words, there is no cost to Waterville for Delta’s providing paramedic ambulance service.

Delta’s proposal would embrace Esler’s desire to have a backup ambulance and addresses each point Esler made at the Nov. 19 council meeting, according to the report.

Besides providing a state-licensed ambulance for the city to use when other ambulances are delayed, Delta would, as part of its proposal:

• Maintain the ambulance, provide an additional ambulance when needed, provide supplies and be responsible for billing patients transported by the Fire Department.


• Reimburse the city for each medically necessary transport performed by the Fire Department.

• Ensure the Fire Department is able to use the ambulance for mass gatherings, hazmat response, active-shooter situations and mass-casualty situations, and Delta or the Fire Department would provide a paramedic for those events.

Esler said at the council meeting Oct. 15 that of the 3,000 calls to which Waterville Rescue responded in 2018, city rescue workers had to wait 75 times for Delta to arrive at a call and 19 of those waits were five to nine minutes. Eight of the delays were from 15 to 19 minutes, two delays were 25 to 29 minutes and two delays were for more than 35 minutes, he said.

Esler said the city’s fire-rescue employees provided care to the patients as they waited for Delta.

Beals, of Delta, said the next day, Oct. 16, that the numbers Delta received from the state showed that of the emergency calls to which Delta responded in Waterville, Delta employees were on scene within 12 minutes 96.68% of the time.

Through August 2019, Delta responded to 3,007 requests for service, with an average response time of 5.1 minutes, according to a Delta document.


Beals said from January to September of this year, Delta called for mutual aid 11 times. Delta’s options for mutual aid include using the Clinton Fire Department, which has transport service that Delta uses primarily in the Waterville area.

Delta has other options, including calling Augusta, Unity or Albion.

At the Nov. 19 council meeting, Esler said as part of the Fire Department’s plans, it would serve as ambulance backup about 50 times a year.

Esler said Monday that Delta’s proposal is the closest the ambulance service has come to meeting his concerns as fire chief, but he is not sure if it is the best option.

“I know, for sure, that the Waterville Fire Department and Delta are going to work together either way,” he said, “so I’m excited to have another option.”

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