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South County EMS

South County EMS to bring on per-diem staff

SUNDERLAND — The newly created South County Emergency Medical Service is filling its rosters with per-diem staff to give the towns of Whately, Deerfield and Sunderland 24 hours, seven-days-a-week coverage while it looks for its full-time director.

“We’re putting temporary people in there from now until we hire a director so there is consistent coverage,” said Sunderland Fire Chief Robert Ahearn, who serves on the service’s Board of Oversight.

The staffing decision is meant to provide complete coverage until the service fully starts.

The Board of Oversight is aiming for a March 1 start-up date as long as it can find and hire a director.

Once hired, the director would fully launch the service with full-time staff.

Ahearn said he is working on a specific schedule that will be presented to the Board of Oversight at this week’s meeting on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Sunderland Public Safety Complex.

The Board of Oversight, made up of selectmen and fire and ambulance chiefs, is working to transition the three local EMS departments into a 24-hour paramedic service shared between the three towns.

The regional service will hire from within the three towns’ existing ranks during the transition period. Ahearn did not know how many per-diem employees the service would bring on or how many it would need.

“People already working in the ambulance services are all welcome to participate in the process. The doors are open,” said Board of Oversight member, Mark Gilmore, who is also a Deerfield selectman.

Currently, the three towns have four full-time staff members together. Three work for Deerfield . One intermediate EMT works for Sunderland. Only two of those are paramedics from Deerfield. Other EMTs are on-call volunteer staff.

The per-diem staff would be paid the Deerfield rate of $17.92 an hour. Deerfield is the fiscal agent for the regional service and as a result the South County EMS staff are Deerfield employees.

Basic, intermediate and paramedic EMTs can sign up for per-diem shifts. The service would initially be basic until the state grants Deerfield a paramedic license. Deerfield applied for the license and expects to know whether it gets a license in February.

“We’re just talking about getting this up and running with a consistent level of service,” Ahearn said.

The Board of Oversight won’t hire anyone full-time until the director is hired and Deerfield gets its paramedic license, Ahearn said.

“We want the director to have more input,” Ahearn said. “As soon as we hire a director, the board will direct the person to implement a schedule.”

So far, the service has received two applicants for the director’s position, Ahearn said.

The board is looking for a working director who would hire full-time paramedics and launch the service.

The director would spend 80 percent of his or her time on ambulance runs and 20 percent on management.

The director would be paid between $60,000 to $65,000 and would report to the Board of Oversight.

The application review period starts Jan. 22 and will continue until the position is filled.

The board is working with a $493,589 budget for January until June.

For full-time staffing, it has budgeted $233,457 for four paramedics paid between $55,412 to $32,161 annually depending on grade level.

It also covers $230,150 for four intermediate/basic EMTs, $65,000 for the director’s salary and $55,412 for an assistant director.

These costs won’t be implemented until the service hires full-time staff.

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

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