Tri-Town Ambulance, which provides EMS to the three up-Island towns, is undergoing a change in leadership just as the summer season ramps up.

Paul (Zeke) Wilkins has stepped down as chief following a period of medical leave this year.

Cynthia Mitchell, a West Tisbury selectman and Tri-Town committee member, said giving the timing of the change, the hiring process would likely begin in September.

“We thought [it] best to let the summer happen . . . this being the busiest time of the year,” Mrs. Mitchell said at the selectmen’s meeting last week.

Tri-Town chief Zeke Wilkins (center) pictured at Aquinnah public safety day in 2014. Mr. Wilkins stepped down last week following a medical leave this year. — Ivy Ashe

The Tri-Town ambulance committee, which includes representatives from the three member towns, had discussed beginning the process sooner and appointing deputy chief Ben Retmier to fill the position. But the town of Chilmark, which handles payroll and other financial matters for the service, requires that the position be publicly advertised.

The committee voted Tuesday to recommend that the Chilmark selectmen accept Mr. Wilkins’s resignation and also appoint Mr. Retmier as acting chief until the vacancy is filled.

“Probably around September we will begin a process, understanding that he may well prove himself to be a good chief,” Mrs. Mitchell said, referring to Mr. Retmier.

“I think he will do a fine job,” said selectman Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter.

Mr. Wilkins was appointed in June 2011, having served as interim director following the resignation of former chief Robert Bellinger that winter.

Mr. Wilkins and others have pushed for the relocation of the Tri-Town headquarters from West Tisbury to Chilmark, which would provide quicker access to Chilmark and Aquinnah.

Last year, a Chilmark committee identified the area around Beetlebung Corner as the best location for a public safety building that could house the ambulance service, the Chilmark fire department and possibly the Chilmark police department. Planning remains ongoing.

In early June, Mr. Retmier posted vacancies for five full-time medics and one part-time clerk, with applications due by June 19. At the time, the service employed two medics, in addition to the chief and deputy chief, and had 47 volunteer EMTs.

“It’s a business,” Mr. Wilkins told the Gazette in December, “and we need to just expand and grow with the times.”