South County EMS

Whately ambulance to be part of new service

WHATELY — When the South County Emergency Medical Service launches, townspeople may still spot their town’s rig responding to medical calls.

The Board of Oversight for the South County Emergency Medical Service agreed to operate three ambulances in its tri-town paramedic service, including the Whately ambulance.

Initially, the three towns planned to operate the service with only the Deerfield and Sunderland ambulances. But the board changed its mind, deciding to keep the Whately ambulance in service.

The board is implementing a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week paramedic service for the towns of Deerfield, Whately and Sunderland, the first of its kind in western Massachusetts. The board’s goal is to launch the service in March.

In October, voters agreed to spend $493,589 for the first six months of the regional service ending in June.

The Whately ambulance would serve as a backup ambulance for when the two other ambulances are not available and won’t be staffed on a regular basis. The 2001 ambulance could be used for community events so the other ambulances wouldn’t have to be taken out of service, Whately EMS Director Gary Stone said.

Like the two other ambulances, the Whately ambulance would be based at its current location, which is on Christian Lane.

The Deerfield ambulance will serve as the primary ambulance based at the South Deerfield Fire District until the regional service finds a permanent home. The Sunderland ambulance is the first backup.

The Deerfield ambulance would be staffed with a paramedic and EMT. As soon as that ambulance responds to a call, an on-call scheduled staff would head to the Sunderland Public Safety Complex to man the backup ambulance there.

The decision to keep the Whately ambulance is a relief to Stone, who pushed for months to keep the town ambulance.

“I was always against losing our ambulance,” Stone said. “I think people realized ‘why get rid of one when we can use it as a second backup?’”

The $170,000 Whately ambulance is already paid for this year, Stone said. But the board is determining what the cost would be to include the truck in the regional service.

The board has to determine how much cost the regional service would absorb and how much Whately would spend for the ambulance, Whately Town Clerk Lynn Sibley said.

She indicated the town would be willing to cover some of the additional costs to keep it functional.

The major part of the cost to any ambulance is maintenance, Sibley said. The town has already paid for the licensing and inspection of the ambulance in November, which came to about $1,500, Stone said. The Class-5 ambulance is licensed at the intermediate level.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at: or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.

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