Town officials react to Crown Ambulance discontinuing 9-1-1 service

Presque Isle Fire Department is preparing for the change in ambulance service, which takes effect by 2020. Chief Darrell White says the department operates four ambulances and serves Washburn and Fort Fairfield, in addition to Presque Isle. He says while the transition may require looking at personnel and equipment needs, he's confident his department will be able to meet the public's needs and there's no immediate cause for alarm.

"It would depend on how far - how much further we gotta extend it out - whether we need to look at adding more staff or adding more ambulances. But with four ambulances and Caribou as a mutual aid backup, I - I don't think we need to hit a panic button right off. I think there's some ways that we can put together a pretty decent package for all communities to get quality EMS service."

Mars Hill has long served as an ambulance base for Crown Ambulance. Town Manager Dave Cyr says he hasn't yet received the formal notification the service is being discontinued, but has spoken with Greg LaFrancois, president of Northern Light A.R. Gould Hospital about it. Cyr is working with neighboring communities, reaching out to Presque Isle to discuss ambulance options. He's requested a run history for the last five years from Crown Ambulance for Mars Hill and the surrounding area, to better make informed decisions as they move forward.

"Do we establish our own service? That one comes with its own set of - of problems. Do we contract with Presque Isle, if that's an option? Do we contract with - with Houlton, if that's an option? I don't have any definitive answers. I mean, we're looking at different options, but right now I - I couldn't tell ya that I'm gonna go with Presque Isle, because I don't know that - whether it's even an option for us."

The announcement has left Cyr with more questions than answers - answers he hopes to obtain after meeting with other town officials.

"The ones that really need to decide what they want and how they want to do it is our town and city managers, and our selectmen and our councilmen. And my recommendation is that the managers, with their fire chiefs, get together, because I see a great opportunity to take another step in the regionalization world."

Communities will begin meeting next week to discuss their options.