South Windsor Town Council voted unanimously Monday night to remove South Windsor Ambulance Corps as the towns ambulance provider.
Instead, the town will contract with Ambulance Service of Manchester LLC for all advanced life support and basic life support calls in the Town of South Windsor.
The move came amid a packed town hall swirling with controversy.
The South Windsor Ambulance Corps (SWAC) has served the community for more than 30 years, but came under fire since 2004, when it went from volunteer to paid.
Citing years of leadership failures, town councilors spoke out on Monday.
“Personally, I don’t have any confidence in SWAC’s ability to make the organizational change that needs to be made to protect the residents of the town of South Windsor,” said Councilor Keith Yagaloff.
But Phil Fleury, executive director for SWAC since August, says problems came under prior administration. He says SWAC deserves one more chance under his leadership.
“Their resolution is to bring in an outside source from outside of town to provide the same service that we’re already providing.”
The town council says it asked SWAC to add advanced life support services for years, but it never happened, prompting it to put the contract out for bidding.
The council decided to go with Ambulance Service of Manchester, which offers advanced life support.
“We wanted them to upgrade since 2004, and we’ve been totally ignored, and all of a sudden when we’re going to make the change, everybody runs and says, ‘Oh, I can do it. So we’re not going to play that game,” said Town Manager Matthew Galligan.
Not only does the split mean the end of a more than three-decade relationship, but it could also mean that 40 people would lose their jobs.
During public comment, residents like Roseanne Williams criticized the council.
“A council who voted to rid our ambulance service in your own town, I would not be proud of that. Shame on you,” she said.
But ultimately those concerns fell on what appeared to be deaf ears. The council voted to sever ties with SWAC, something that SWAC’s attorney, Allison Bloom, says is illegal under state law.
“SWAC will in fact vigorously pursue and defend its legal rights in court,” she said.
The mayor said that some of the SWAC medics should be able to get jobs with Ambulance Service of Manchester.
At least two of the ASM ambulances will be located in South Windsor to ensure response times are not delayed or altered.