The ABCs of EMS

At the start of each month’s Representative Town Meeting, a resident offers an invocation. 

Last week, Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Services (WVEMS) president Mike Burns used his time to describe his organization — and to remind RTM members (who vote each year on the town budget) what a bargain they are for the town.

He said:

Westport EMS is a hybrid organization that runs the Emergency Medical Service for the town. We are 2 organizations (Westport EMS and WVEMS), and we proudly serve as one seamless team. W

Westport EMS operates under the Westport Police Department, and is made up of roughly 7 full-time staff who work hand in hand with over 50 volunteers, who come from WVEMS. The full-time staff are mainly paramedics, and the volunteers are mainly EMT’s

Together we provide amazingly good care to all who live, work and pass through Westport. On any given call, you are almost guaranteed to have a paramedic respond to the scene. This is not typical elsewhere. A paramedic is a licensed professional who provides the same emergency medical care as someone would get from a doctor in an emergency room. This makes all the difference for someone who suffers a serious medical emergency. Westport is very lucky to have this.

The volunteer organization (WVEMS) is made up of a diverse group of people who freely volunteer their time to staff the ambulances, and raise money to fund the program.

Here is where the bargain comes in. EMS is the smallest of the 3 emergency services in town, but we actually cost the town very little to operate.

EMS takes in revenue from patients’ insurance. The volunteer organization’s fundraising efforts make up a lot of the rest of the cost. In addition to staffing the ambulances and our educational classes, as a charitable organization we purchase the equipment, vehicles and supplies to run the service.

One ambulance costs about $360,000. We have 3, and are in the process of replacing them all.

Mike Burns, WVEMS president, with an EMS ambulance.

In the past, WVEMS has paid for the expansion of the Police Department building to accommodate both WEMS and the WPD.

The town budget is pretty much untouched by EMS. The town doesn’t have any bond issuances or extra budgetary requests due to EMS.

We also have 3 fly cars, which serve as paramedic vehicles. The one big request that WVEMS has made is to share in the ARPA funds to replace one of our aging fly cars with a green electric vehicle. We think this is an appropriate request, considering the driving force of the funds.

We are an amazing asset for Westport. Too few people are aware of it until they need it.

Finances aside, the members of EMS are dedicated to serving the town despite our not being sworn officers. If there is ever a mass incident in town, EMS will be there, along with the other emergency service providers, in harm’s way — myself included.

Some of the 2021 Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Service crew.

In closing I want to thank you for your time and consideration. I hope this brief overview helped to further enlighten the community as to who we are and how we operate. Please help to spread our message.

It never hurts for “06880” readers to learn more about our often-overlooked Emergency Medical Services (and their confusing structures and budget needs). Click here for more information on Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Services. Click here for more information on Westport Emergency Medical Services.

7 responses to “The ABCs of EMS

  1. Thank you Dan- you are a good friend and neighbor. It’s important to spread the word to raise awareness of who we are and what we do for Westport. We benefit everyone equally. Want to help? Feel free to email me at

  2. We have called on Westport EMS twice for emergencies, and both times their service has been exemplary. They belong on everybody’s list of “organizations to support.”

  3. These people are truly heroes. Unfortunately I’ve had the need for their services several times in the recent past. They came immediately, assessed my situation and drove me to the hospital.
    My thanks to all of them

  4. Michael – thank you for the great work you and your team for all of us in the community. Thank you for sharing this message – see you soon. Tommy

  5. Can we send the ambulances being replaced to Ukraine?

  6. Mark- I like your thinking. WVEMS recently donated one of our older vehicles to a CT service in need. We will certainly keep this in mind when the time comes. Unfortunately due to Covid induced supply chain issues, we will not see one of our new ambulances until 2024 at best.

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