Ambulance calls have risen in New Milford from 1,717 in 2010 to nearly 2,000 calls annually.

Community Ambulance President Donna Hespe and her team have worked with Mayor Pat Murphy's office to assure paramedic coverage will meet that need.

The ambulance crew took a big step in that direction Sept. 5 by adding a 12-hour paramedic shift from Monday through Friday during daytime hours.

The enhancement to the shared regional paramedic program took a year in planning and gathering state approvals.

"Having a paramedic right here during weekdays when we have our highest call volumes is essential," Hespe said Monday. "When a call is taken, the dispatcher asks all pertinent questions and, based on caller response, it is determined what code level the ambulance goes out on."

Code C and D dispatches always have a paramedic onboard the ambulance.

Hespe said sometimes confusion occurs during the 911 phone call and the ambulance crew will arrive at a Code B scene to find a paramedic had been needed.

"Now we've got a paramedic right there," she said. "And we still have all level of service 24/7 with the regional paramedic's availability."

The paramedic staff is provided as part of an existing staffing contract with VinTech Management Services LLC, of Torrington.

New Milford previously had two EMTs on duty weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. One of those EMT positions was cut and the 12-hour paramedic added in its place.

"New Milford Community Ambulance has been providing exceptional, basic ambulance service to the town for over 83 years," Murphy said.

"This move to the paramedic level will only enhance the level of care provided to our residents, and promote an enhanced regional approach to emergency medical services," she said.

stuz@newstimes.com; 860-355-7322