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South County EMS

Deerfield selectmen discuss town EMS option

DEERFIELD — The Board of Selectmen are split in their support of the two EMS proposals: a regional paramedic ambulance service and an expanded local service.

At the Wednesday meeting, the board discussed the project, but made no decision.

The board indicated it still plans to ask townspeople to choose between the two EMS plans.

“I’m in favor of an enhanced EMS process in Deerfield,” said Selectmen’s Chairman Mark Gilmore. “I’m not wedded to any thought process.”

Gilmore said by providing townspeople with two options, he hopes the town can have an improved service and not have to wait through another budget season no matter how residents in Whately and Sunderland vote.

Selectman Carolyn Shores Ness, on the other hand, said she supports the regional option because she believes it would be more sustainable in the long term.

“That’s why I want to be the third town to go in case one town doesn’t support it. We can focus on Deerfield-only,” said Shores Ness.

Newly elected Selectman David Wolfram, a former EMT, said he’s a strong advocate for 24/7 paramedic ambulance. But he had concerns with the regional proposal in that Deerfield would bear 51.76 percent of the cost and only get two of six votes on the Board of Oversight.

“I have concerns that with the regional proposal we don’t have a stronger vote. We should have more say,” Wolfram said.

Finance Committee Chairman Albert Olmstead Jr. had initially broached the topic to determine whether the Finance Committee can review the budget impact.

The selectmen are scheduled to attend a joint meeting with Whately and Sunderland boards of selectmen on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Whately Center School to discuss Deerfield’s recent plans.

The town has been planning a regional service with Whately and Sunderland for two years, but it recently began investigating whether it can go it alone, surprising the other two towns.

The board decided to offer townspeople two options at an upcoming town meeting — the regional or the local service. Before bringing the plan to town meeting, Sunderland and Whately selectmen called for a meeting to regroup.

The South County Emergency Medical Services would be funded at $749,595. The 24/7 service would temporarily be based out of the South Deerfield fire station with a backup in the Sunderland Public Safety Complex. Staffing is left up to the future Board of Oversight.

Under the regional service, Deerfield’s 51.76 percent share would be $387,990.

In contrast, the Deerfield-only option would cost $352,931. It would have one ambulance and operate 16 hours a day, seven days week.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at:
kmckiernan@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.

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