Ambulance calls hit weekly all-time high

With 46 calls during the week of Dec. 2-8, the Wilton Volunteer Ambulance Corps hit an all-time high for calls in one week.

There were 19 calls to private homes, 17 calls to senior living facilities, nine motor vehicle accident responses, and one call to a public location. Twenty-four of the calls were medical, 22 were trauma-related.

Of the 46 calls, the ambulance made 35 trips to the hospital, meaning nine trips were refused.

Ambulance corps president John Miscioscia said the corps averages 3.75 calls a day, for a yearly total of more than 1,360. He said he expects the corps to finish the year in that ballpark.

“Usually in the winter months there’s an uptick in falls and the flu,” he said. “Our call volume will go up when the new [senior living] facility opens on Danbury Road.”

Just like the fire department, the ambulance corps relies on mutual aid when call volume exceeds their ability to respond.

The corps “could probably easily do eight to 10 calls a day if they are spaced out,” he said, since each call takes about an hour. “But they never happen like that. Last month, we had five calls in the space of 20 minutes.” Wilton handled two of those calls but relied on Norwalk and New Canaan to handle the others. “It’s an unpredictable business.”

The ambulance corps is compensated only for trips made to the hospital with a patient. When a patient refuses a ride the ambulance corps receives no payment, even if they treat someone.

A new state protocol will increase the number of calls an ambulance makes, but will not likely increase insurance payments, Miscioscia said. That’s because any time a fall is called in to police dispatch, an EMS evaluation is required. In the past, a police officer or firefighter might help a person who has fallen without calling out EMS. The new protocol will change that. If a ride to the hospital is not warranted, the ambulance corps receives no payment for the visit.

Ambulance rates are set by the state. Proposed rates for 2019 are $743 for Basic Life Support, $747 for Advanced Life Support (non-ER), and $835 for a paramedic intercept.