Paramedic request scrutinized, approved by selectmen
DARIEN — Despite a dissenting view from Post 53’s medical director, the Board of Selectmen has voted unanimously to hire in-town paramedics.
The board met Monday to discuss the EMS study by McGrath Consulting. Dr. Douglas Gallo, EMS medical director for Post 53 and for the city of Stamford, disagreed with the study’s recommendation calling for contracted, in-town paramedics.
“This is a conflict between the fundamentals of the EMS system design and what the people of the town desire,” Gallo said. “It’s true that if you had paramedics located, for instance, at Post 53, that response times would shrink. However, the overwhelming consensus of literature in EMS, from NAEMSP (National Association of EMS Physicians), indicates that response times are not a valid metric by which to gauge the efficiency and efficaciousness of an EMS system. Nor is it a metric by which we should be measuring the ‘quality of care’ that they give.”
Gallo went on to explain that less than 5 percent of emergency calls received, about 1.2 per day on average, require speed, and those that do — cardiac arrest, heart attack, stroke, respiratory problems — tend to require only basic life support level skills currently provided by Post 53.
“It the town decides to go ahead with paramedics, I will support you 110 percent. We will be there,” Gallo said. “Literature and current operational metrics do not support a demonstrable efficacy benefit to that decision.”
Other logistical problems concerning in-town paramedics were also noted. Selectwoman Susan Marks and Post 53 Director Ron Hammer each brought up the issue of housing. Marks voiced her concern at stationing at Post 53 because of its location on the western edge of town.
“Because the number one driving force was response time, it would appear that if we could have them located in the most centralized spot in Darien possible, it will just continue to improve the response time.”
Hammer — who has stated previously that Post 53 would help the town achieve their goal should they choose to implement an in-town paramedic — told the board there is no sufficient space at Post 53 to house a medic, but that living quarters could, presumably, be built at some cost.
Stevenson also speculated on the issue of the adult paramedics and teenage volunteers sharing the same space.
“The fact that they have kids that spend the night there more often than not, that will be a consideration for interacting with contracted paramedics,” she said.
Still, McGrath’s request, which Stevenson said was based on the town’s ability to pay for paramedics, was passed by the selectmen and the decision will now pass to the RTM.
“It’s really going to be our decision now if we will spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $400,000 a year for three and half minutes,” Stevenson said.