After years of discussion, Presque Isle’s city government is set to run its own 911 and ambulance service in a move that’s being questioned by the long-time provider, The Aroostook Medical Center.

Presque Isle’s new E911 emergency ambulance services should be up and running within six months and will be operated out of the Fire Department, according to fire Chief Darrell White.

The service will have six paramedics, two full-time ambulances and one ambulance in reserve, with the expectation that it will be self-funding from emergency medical services revenue, White said.

The plan, approved by the Presque Isle City Council in August, has been an idea of city leaders since at least 2009 — although it has raised some concerns by the city’s current EMS provider, The Aroostook Medical Center.

Since 1988, after the bankruptcy of a private ambulance company, The Aroostook Medical Center’s Crown Emergency Care has served much of central Aroostook County from stations in Fort Fairfield, Limestone, Mars Hill and Presque Isle.

Since 2014, The Aroostook Medical Center and Presque Isle have had a collaborative agreement through which Crown provides an ambulance and paramedic, stationed at the Fire Department, while the department provides an ambulance driver. The agreement — which expired Sept. 15 — also involved an annual payment from The Aroostook Medical Center to the city of more than $100,000.

“We had hoped to extend this agreement, which we strongly believe has been beneficial to the city, neighboring communities and TAMC by making the most of limited resources,” said Roland Joy, vice president of patient care services at The Aroostook Medical Center, in a media release. “We would prefer to remain with our current partnership.”

Joy said that The Aroostook Medical Center is concerned that the existence of another EMS provider may not be financially sustainable, creating risks for both the city and the Presque Isle hospital.

“With two ambulance services operating in one low-call volume area, there is a higher risk for one or both to fail” financially, he said.

White said the current arrangement has worked well. It started in 2014, when “budgets were a little tight” for both the city government and the hospital, and “it helped us both with our operational budgets.” But, he said, city leaders have been open about their interest in the city government eventually running a local emergency system.

Many municipalities across the country run ambulance systems through their fire departments with quality service and with solid financials, including Caribou, Houlton and Madawaska in The County, White said. He also added that Presque Isle’s E911 service will not be providing interfacility transportation, a major source of ambulance revenue that will be left to The Aroostook Medical Center.

Both White and Joy said that the Fire Department and The Aroostook Medical Center will be able to transition to a new arrangement without negative impacts to the quality of care, although Joy said that The Aroostook Medical Center is still planning to address the City Council on the issue.

“Ultimately, we are still in hopes that we will be able to continue with our current collaborative model, which we believe will be beneficial to all,” Joy said.