The Peninsula Ambulance Corps was founded in 1968 by a group of concerned citizens who saw the need for an ambulance in their town and the surrounding communities. Up to this time, ambulance service had to be called from Ellsworth and could take some time to arrive. The towns were convinced of the need, and when the local hospital also signed on to the project, planning began in earnest.
In the days and weeks that followed, several local citizens formed a committee to staff an ambulance and to raise funds for the project. The community responded generously. In twenty-one days, enough money was raised to purchase an ambulance and run the new organization for an entire year. The Peninsula Ambulance Corps was born. The starting capital was an unbelievable $4,500. For the first few years, the local newspaper office dispatched the ambulance. Later, the Blue Hill Memorial Hospital took over the job – a service that it provided until December of 2006 when the E-911 system was initiated and the Hancock County Regional Communications Center took over.
Over the following years, PAC membership increased, a building was built onto the existing firehouse, and vehicles were purchased, used and replaced. PAC managed to keep up with rapidly changing licensure criteria as Maine EMS came into being and the regulations that would govern EMS were created. It is worth noting that one could become an ambulance attendant in 1968 by taking a class that ran precisely five nights. One newspaper article from 1969 noted that some people were skeptical about the need for any further training or licensure of attendants when the proposal was forwarded by then Governor Kenneth Curtis. Many of those skeptical people were funeral directors.
In 1990, it became painfully clear that volunteerism, especially in the daytime, was becoming an endangered species. People wanted to volunteer, but economic pressure made it very difficult. PAC found it necessary to hire its first full-time employees to cover daytime shifts. Nights were still staffed by volunteers. This situation continued until late 1991 when further reductions in volunteer staff called for the hiring of additional paid staff. Over the next several years, PAC gradually transitioned to a fully paid service, retaining just two volunteer staff members. In order to declare itself an ambulance service, an organization must keep its doors open twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week. The transition to a fully paid staff has been the key to our survival in this regard.
In 1997, PAC reorganized itself. While remaining a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the Board of Directors became an entity separate from the employees. Up to that time, the volunteers who staffed the vehicles also ran the corporation. Now, an independent board made up of community members would do the job. The Board hired a manager to oversee day-to-day operations and act on behalf of the organization. This model has proven more efficient and more ethical since field personnel are not regularly involved with billing and other financial or business concerns.
Up until 1994, PAC was staffed primarily with basic and intermediate EMTs. Starting in mid 1994, however, we added paramedics to our roster. As the standard of care moves forward, the need for paramedic coverage increases. With the advent of the critical access hospital, patients being transported to tertiary facilities like Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center require ever-increasing levels of care. We currently offer ALS (Advanced Life Support) care at least to the intermediate level around the clock, seven days a week with paramedic care available most of that time. We hope to continue this trend, but the challenge is great not only because of financial pressures, but also because competition for qualified people is fierce.
Plans for the future include the furtherance of our mission to provide medical transportation, public education, and related services to our seven-town area. When a new challenge arises, we want to rise to it. When the standard of care advances, we want to be ahead of it. The people we serve deserve nothing less.