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South County EMS

Old Sunderland firehouse home of the South County EMS?

SUNDERLAND — The old Sunderland fire house on North Main Street has been proposed as a housing option for the ambulance rigs of the South County Emergency Medical Service.

Sunderland would charge the regional paramedic service “next to nothing” to use the building, said Sunderland Fire Chief Robert Ahearn. Utilities would have to be paid and the building would only have to be refurbished, he added.

Deerfield Selectman David Wolfram and Finance Committee member Albert “Skip” Olmstead suggested the idea at a recent South County EMS Board of Oversight meeting.

“We’re looking at all the options,” Wolfram said. “Instead of renting from a private owner, I thought it’d be more viable. The money would stay within the three towns.”

One of the lingering issues in creating the south county ambulance service is where to house the ambulances and at what cost, if any. The old fire house is another idea on the growing list of possible locations. Whately, Deerfield and Sunderland have agreed to keep all their local ambulances with the Deerfield one serving as the primary ambulance.

The Board of Oversight has looked at housing the ambulances in each town’s fire station or public safety complex.

The total cost among the three towns to house the ambulances in the three local stations would be $32,000 per year, Wolfram said.

The towns have also discussed renting space from the potential buyer of the Massachusetts Library System building in the Whately Industrial Park. The private buyer would charge the South County EMS $36,000 per year for use of the bays and office space.

Wolfram suggested the board could sign the leases with the towns and work on turning the old Sunderland firehouse into an interim location for the next year.

While the Board of Oversight broached the idea with the private buyer a few weeks ago, they have not moved forward on the talks.

The board has not had a quorum at the last two meetings and has not been able to deliberate and vote, Ahearn said.

The Board of Oversight is planning to start this month with service running 16 hours, seven days a week. On July 1, the paramedic service will ramp up to 24 hours, seven days a week, board member Thomas Fydenkevez recently said.

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