October 6, 2008

Downeast EMS Costs

An article concerning the Calais City Council and the Downeast EMS ambulance service appeared in the Sept. 16 issue of the Bangor Daily News. There wasn't enough information to understand the financial issues involved.

Downeast EMS requires contributions by the communities to break even, called "stipends." The amount of stipends this year is $383,358. For most communities, this is calculated as $15.50 per capita, but Eastport, Calais and Lubec all have agreed to pay significantly more to ensure the financial health of the service. These municipalities each pay about $94,000 in stipends, resulting in higher per-capita rates. They work together to ensure the vitality of Downeast EMS.

All three communities also spend money not currently tracked by Downeast EMS to maintain ambulance stations in their communities. Calais does have greater expenses to maintain its station and staff, and receives a reimbursement to offset those expenses. It is fair to say that the "lion's share" of the stipends to Downeast EMS is shared by the three largest communities in the organization in an effort to provide quality emergency service to as much of eastern Washington County as possible.

Downeast EMS is a success story of regionalization. Mayor Vinton Cassidy and the Calais City Council have raised important questions about the efficiency and structure of the ambulance service and have qualms about its costs. The authority board must take their questions and concerns seriously and provide proposals to address those questions.

All communities should keep in mind the importance of providing quality emergency ambulance service to all in the region.

Brian Schuth


Eastport City Council

William Daye


Lubec Select Board

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