PROVINCETOWN — The twisting saga of the Lower Cape Ambulance Association (LCAA) and the fire departments of Provincetown and Truro took yet another turn this spring. Both towns are still moving to bring all fire and EMS services into their fire depts. — but the transition from the private ambulance crews of the 87-year-old nonprofit LCAA will now take three years instead of mere months.
On Monday, town meeting voters in Provincetown ratified the change by unanimously approving a $1,058,476 override as part of the town’s general budget. The money will both extend LCAA’s contract for three years and fund the hiring of eight new full-time firefighter-paramedics and firefighter-EMTs.
The extension of LCAA’s working life eases the pressure on both towns’ fire depts. to hire a large number of staff before this summer. At one point, Provincetown was contemplating 16 new hires by July, and Truro eight.
Many of those positions would have been filled by hiring current LCAA staff, but the transition plan had some speed bumps, with questions about the terms of employment for LCAA’s members who are EMTs or paramedics but not firefighters.
Provincetown had received 20 job applications as of the Feb. 27 select board meeting, according to Town Manager Alex Morse. Three of those were from paramedics, and the rest were from firefighter-EMTs.
LCAA was revived, in part, because the organizations began speaking to each other — something that apparently hadn’t been happening regularly. When LCAA’s leaders appeared at a Provincetown Select Board meeting on Feb. 27, member Bobby Anthony alluded to the lack of communication.
“It is a sight to behold — all of us in the same room,” said Anthony.
Later that night, LCAA’s Chief Operating Officer Steven Roderick said, “We did have this meeting with Truro, and it was one of the first meetings we’ve had with Provincetown, Truro, and LCAA in the room at the same time in probably four years. It was a very productive meeting, and I think we will be able to discuss the issues.”
Truro Fire Chief Tim Collins and Town Manager Darrin Tangeman did not return calls for comment.
“I can’t thank you enough — it makes everyone feel more comfortable,” said select board member Louise Venden.
Anthony, who previously served as Provincetown’s police chief, told a story from the summer of 1987 when there was not enough ambulance coverage in town and the police department responded to an attempted suicide. His officer initially did not understand the gravity of the situation, and Anthony insisted the officer drive the person to Cape Cod Hospital — a trip that normally might have taken place by ambulance.
The woman’s mother called Anthony later to thank the department, and he recounted her words with great emotion. “It is so important that we do the right thing,” Anthony said.