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South County EMS

Whately votes ‘yes’

WHATELY — Townspeople voted Tuesday night to leave behind their local ambulance service and are backing a regional 24/7 paramedic service with Deerfield and Sunderland.

With a vote of 80-8, the town supported joining an inter-municipal agreement with Deerfield and Sunderland to form the South County Emergency Medical Services and chose to add $54,665 to the ambulance fund account approved at last spring’s annual town meeting to support the town’s portion of the cost for the rest of the fiscal year.

Whately’s portion is $82,735. Sunderland’s contribution is $155,366 and Deerfield’s is $255,488.

For more than two years, the three town boards of selectmen and EMS directors have developed a proposal to create Franklin County’s first municipal regional paramedic service.

A full-time staff based out of the South Deerfield fire station and a backup ambulance at the Sunderland Public Safety complex will provide coverage for the 66 square miles of southern Franklin County.

Whately’s vote at Tuesday’s special town meeting paves the way for its neighbors.

It will be Sunderland’s turn to decide on Friday at 7 p.m. in the Sunderland Elementary School.

All three towns made their funding contingent on approval by their partners.

Deerfield will be the last to vote on Oct. 28. However, the town has two options on the table — the regional service and an expanded local paramedic option.

In Whately’s decision, residents differed with EMS Director Gary Stone, who spoke and voted against the regional service. But Stone said in the past he’d support the regional service if it did pass all three towns.

Stone hoped the town could build on its local service. In May, Stone implemented on-call volunteer shifts and higher stipends to enhance response to medical calls and improve the local service.

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

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