Ambulance Argument Turns Nasty

DERBY – Another discussion over the Derby Line Ambulance quickly grew heated and led to foul and vulgar language at the Derby Select Board’s regular meeting Monday.A group of people formerly associated with the ambulance service have shown up several times at select board meetings to express their concerns over how the ambulance is run. Leading the charge is Roger Gosselin, a former member of the ambulance service, and Nathan Pickard, who went on a few calls with Gosselin.The group says they are concerned with the ambulance service and how it spends its money. Derby Line is part of mutual aide and some times is unavailable for Derby area residents. When this happens, a nearby service responds. The group also questioned equipment purchases.Many, including select board chair Brian Smith and board member Beula-Jean Shattuck, say at least part of the problem stems from personal issues. Pickard asked the select board what those personal issues were but no one wanted say.Paul Snider, formerly with the Derby Line Ambulance, was there to express concerns and grew irritated while speaking and used obscene language. Smith quickly intervened and said it had to stop.Snider had said that when he questioned how the money was spent, he was told it is none of his business.Members of the board told the group to direct their concerns to the ambulance board. But when they have attempted to raise their questions with the ambulance board, they are told to address those questions to the Derby Select Board, they said.Smith read a response from the ambulance service board of directors in answer to a list of questions raised by Pickard and Gosselin, but this did not fully appease the group, which raised more questions about how the money is spent. The select board is looking into what options there are for accountability of Derby taxpayer dollars that are spent for the service. Smith says he thinks once that it is known, it will help alleviate the issues.Critics of the service want to know if the town payments to the ambulance service guarantee 9-1-1 coverage. The ambulance board responded that it does and, when unavailable, the town relies on mutual aide, as it always has. In 2011, Derby Line Ambulance Service covered five calls for the Newport ambulance as part of Mutual Aide, and Newport covered six calls for Derby Line. The Derby Line Ambulance board says it would need a minimum of $182,500 a year to provide two people, 24 hours a day, every day of the year, if more coverage is wanted by the town.Pickard questioned the amount and said he thinks it’s too high.Derby Line Ambulance personnel and a consulting attorney say if Derby wants more coverage, they can pay and get it.Shattuck said she has never heard any complaints over the ambulance service except from the group that was present.