Politics

Auburn ambulance brings on staff ahead of Nov. 1 start date

AUBURN — With a targeted Nov. 1 start date looming, the City of Auburn Ambulance Service has hired all of its employees.

Kezia Sullivan, the service’s director of operations, who was hired in late August, gave an update on the new municipality-run ambulance system at an Auburn City Council meeting Thursday night. 

She said it was originally planned the service would have 24 full-time workers, plus her, but that was adjusted because some part-time employees were hired. She added the change gives the service some flexibility.

“We had some really great applicants who only wanted part-time (work), so it gives us the ability to hire them,” Sullivan said.

The service has hired 20 full-time employees plus eight part-time workers. The part-time staff will be working 20 hours a week on average, Sullivan said, so it comes out to “24 full-time equivalents.” She said some of the hired workers are people at TLC Emergency Medical Services, the city’s longtime private ambulance provider. With the city’s agreement with TLC set to expire Oct. 31, the Auburn-operated service has a targeted Nov. 1 start date.

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It is planned for the service to have five ambulances, with the city already having two in its possession. Sullivan noted that the other three are currently expected to arrive by the ambulance service’s anticipated start date.

She also said the service is continuing to make progress with “making sure everything’s equipped properly” and they are in compliance with the necessary regulatory agencies.

Sullivan said her work the last few weeks has been focused on the hiring process. The process began with the physical ability test. People had to pass a blood press and pulse screening upon coming to the test in order to progress any farther.  The ability test consisted of five events, including a stair climb with 60 pounds of equipment up two flights of stairs twice, a patient rescue station where candidates dragged a weighted mannequin about 75 feet and doing CPR with chest compressions for two minutes. 

For a medical skills evaluation, it was handling an emergency medical scenario with a mannequin. The basic emergency medical technician candidates had to “progress through a scenario that was tailored to their level of training and access the patient and apply a splint,” Sullivan said. 

“The paramedic patients had to access the patient at their level of training, apply a cardiac monitor, interpret their rhythms and manage them appropriately,” she said.

After that, candidates took on formal interviews, Sullivan said, with the interview panel having “some combination of” herself, Auburn Fire Department Chief Mark Fritz, City Manager Jeff Dygert and Medical Director Dr. Michael Jorolemon.

Following the interviews, successful candidates started orientation, including background checks, being enrolled in a notification system that let the service know if there is an issue with their driver’s licenses, getting pre-employment physicals and finishing mandatory online training.

Mayor Mike Quill asked where the ambulance crews will be housed. Sullivan said they will be at the current fire station at 23 Market St.

One of the reasons why the Auburn Fire Department is relocating to the new public safety building is the decades-long wear and tear and inefficiencies in the current facilities. After the meeting, Sullivan addressed if the ambulance service has concerns regarding that.

“The ambulances are smaller than the fire trucks, they’re lighter and not as wide,” she said. “So that makes it easier to accommodate them in the current structure.”

Dygert said the fire department will be starting to “move some things” in the next week or two. He noted it’s possible that the fire department and ambulance service may be sharing the same space for “a few days or weeks” by Nov. 1 in the short-term. The fire department expects to mostly move into the new building by Nov. 1, he said.

Staff writer Kelly Rocheleau can be reached at (315) 282-2243 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @KellyRocheleau.

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