• Berlin ambulance contract is a plum up for grabs
    By David Delcore
     | February 12,2013

    Stefan Hard / Staff File Photo Barre Town Emergency Medical Services and Northfield rescue personnel work at the scene of an accident in 2003 on Route 12 in West Berlin.

    BERLIN — The field of potential suitors for Berlin’s ambulance business might be growing as town officials await responses to their recent request for proposals.

    Bethel-based White River Valley Ambulance Inc. is said to have expressed interest in providing paramedic-level service to the vast majority of Berlin as next week’s deadline for submitting multiyear proposals approaches.

    Attempts to reach WRVA Operations Supervisor Pat Edwards were unsuccessful Monday.

    The nonprofit organization serves Barnard, Bethel, Braintree, Brookfield, East Granville, Pittsfield, Randolph and Stockbridge. However, if it is serious about adding Berlin to that list, it can expect some competition.

    Barre Town Emergency Medical Services has held the ambulance contract with Berlin since 1996 and is eager to keep a coveted customer that is home to Central Vermont Medical Center and two nearby nursing homes.

    Though Riverton is served under a separate contract with neighboring Northfield, the balance of Berlin generated 1,780 calls for service, including 550 emergencies and 1,230 non-emergencies during the fiscal year that ended June 30. Many of the non-emergency calls involved billable transfers of CVMC patients or nursing home residents.

    That’s what makes Berlin more lucrative than most comparably sized communities, and it’s why others have tried to pry its ambulance business away from the Barre Town service.

    Berlin officials have welcomed that competition and are hoping it continues, right up to the deadline for proposals at noon on Monday.

    It probably will.

    Representatives of the Berlin Volunteer Fire Department have said they plan to renew their pitch to provide round-the-clock ambulance coverage for the community. They submitted a similar proposal three years ago and remain interested in expanding the services they provide Berlin residents.

    That interest is reflected in a revived Town Meeting Day request for $180,000 in additional funding needed to “establish continuous in-station staffing at the Four Corners Station” by creating a stipend program for members of the department.

    At least one other established ambulance service is seriously considering submitting a proposal.

    Although officials in Montpelier have all but ruled out responding to Berlin’s request for proposals, their counterparts in Barre have not.

    Barre made its own play for the Berlin contract in 2009 and again in 2010. City Manager Steve Mackenzie said he was scheduled to discuss the possibility of submitting yet another proposal with Chief Tim Bombardier today.

    “We are looking into it,” Mackenzie said Monday. “We haven’t made a firm decision.”

    Berlin officials are interested in another multiyear contract and have reserved the right to reject any and all proposals.

    david.delcore @timesargus.com

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