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Baystate: Some ambulance layoffs possible

GREENFIELD — Canadian health company Medavie EMS may not automatically keep all of the Greenfield-based employees of Baystate Health Ambulance when it buys the service in April, Baystate Health spokesman Benjamin Craft said Friday.

John Ferguson, a spokesman from the Nova Scotia company, had said Wednesday that the company planned to keep on all staff when it took over this spring. The ambulance service performs emergency first response duties for Greenfield and six other Franklin County towns.

But confusion over the number of Greenfield-based employees in the ambulance service — there are 50, not 38 in Greenfield, as Baystate reported earlier this week — means this won’t necessarily be the case. A small number of staffers, some of whom hold administrative positions, may not be brought on as Medavie EMS employees.

Craft said that these details are still in discussion and will be worked out over the next few months of transition. But he stressed again on Friday, as he did earlier in the week, that the health system will try to find new positions for any employees who are laid off.

Meanwhile, Shelburne, one of the towns served by BHA, isn’t sure what to make of the pending change.

On the day the sale of BHA was announced, selectmen’s Chairman Joseph Judd got a phone call, reassuring him the ambulance service to rural Shelburne would remain unchanged.

But the Shelburne Fire District, which has a contract with BHA Ambulance, was not contacted at all, says James Wholely, chairman of the Shelburne Fire District’s prudential committee.

“The first I heard about it was that I read it in the newspaper,” Wholey said Thursday. “We haven’t heard a thing (from the ambulance company) yet.

“I won’t have an answer for you until I get some information,” he added.

The part of Shelburne that lies within the Shelburne Falls Water District will not be affected by the change in ownership of the Greenfield-based ambulance service, because that water district has its own fire department and ambulance service.

However, the Shelburne (Center) Fire District has a contract with BHA Ambulance, which serves as a first-responder to calls coming from that rural area. Judd said he had received a phone call Wednesday from ambulance operations manager Mark Dion.

Judd said he was invited to a Jan. 21 meeting at BHA’s Ambulance’s Greenfield office, to meet Medavie offcials.

“I want to hear what they’re going to say. I expect, based on what I’m hearing, that the transition is going to be smooth. But I want to go to this meeting to determine that for myself.”

Judd, who lives in Shelburne Center, pointed out, however, that the fire district — not town officials — works directly with the ambulance service.

BHA also serves Greenfield, Montague, Erving, Gill, Leyden and Bernardston.

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