Sherman residents may have to wait extra 30 minutes for ambulance service
SHERMAN, Maine (WABI) - The nearly 900 people who live in the Aroostock County town of Sherman are in a bind when it comes to ambulance service.
Sherman and four other towns may have to wait an extra 30 minutes or more before an ambulance can reach them in a medical emergency.
Sherman relies on the EMS service of the town of Patten.
At the start of the new year, Patten who has four ambulances, only has enough people to operate one of them.
So, they’ve had to cancel contracts with five of the eight towns that they respond to, leaving Sherman and others in a situation to try and find medical coverage.
“We’ve contracted with East Millinocket Ambulance,” said Heather Long, Sherman Fire Chief.
That was Sherman’s next best option, an ambulance service upwards of 30 miles away from parts of town.
“If my loved ones go down with a heart attack, five minutes is life or death. So, you add these winter conditions, some drive times for East Millinocket is 35 plus minutes,” said Heather Long.
Although the town’s 12 volunteer firefighters have first aid training they can’t respond to a medical emergency until an ambulance service arrives.
“We are not insured through the town of Sherman to provide medical care to any citizens here. We can’t just go in and provide life saving measures without direction from ambulance service,” said Heather Long.
The news of this unwelcome reality has made its way through town.
“If there’s an accident, what are we going to do,” said Debora Long.
“We have a lot of elderly people in town. If the Interstate is bad, how long is it going to take them to get here in the winter,” said Mike Doyon.
“It makes me panic because I have a lot of health issues, and it makes you wonder, are we going to get a little bit prolonged with bad weather, the travel distance? Are they going to be fast enough to get us to where we need to go in this remote area,” said Tammy Cullins.
Starting its own EMS service in Sherman is out of the budget.
The situation is leaving firefighters with few options.
“We’re danged if we do, we’re danged if we don’t. I mean, do we not answer the call for help,” said Heather Long.
TV5 reached out to the town of Patten and Patten Ambulance for comment on this story, but have not heard back.
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