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South County EMS

South County EMS: the next steps

SUNDERLAND — Before South County EMS ambulances speed out to help patients, there are a few steps for the transition team to take.

The transition team — made up of boards of selectmen and fire and EMS directors — is forming the South County Emergency Medical Service, a regional 24/7 paramedic ambulance service for the towns of Deerfield, Whately and Sunderland. Some of the team members are to become part of the permanent governing Board of Oversight.

The team met this week at the Sunderland Public Safety Complex for the first time.

First, the three boards of selectmen signed the inter-municipal agreement this week to make the service official.

Second, the team has to write a job description for the South County EMS director.

Third, it has to interview and hire a qualified director, who will then hire his or her staff.

Fourth, the team has to determine what capital and equipment each town department will bring to the service.

The regional ambulance isn’t likely start Jan. 1 as hoped, the team concluded, admitting that the January start was ambitious.

The team is developing a job description for the director, a position it hopes to advertise in December and interview for in January.

Linda Moriarty, regional director of Western Massachusetts Emergency Medical Services, advised the transition team to hire someone with strong managerial skills. She said it can be difficult to find a paramedic with administrative skills. She suggested the towns could hire a director for the administrative side and an assistant to coordinate the clinical side.

To keep its options open, the regional service could advertise the position as “paramedic preferred, but not necessarily required.”

Transition team members Mark Gilmore of Deerfield, Thomas Fydenkevez of Sunderland and Gary Stone of Whately all expressed a desire to fold the Whately ambulance into the service as an operational spare that could potentially be used for community events and recruitment. The question of where they would house the third ambulance still remains.

The towns have already agreed to use the Deerfield ambulance as the primary ambulance and the Sunderland truck as the secondary ambulance. The Deerfield truck would be housed at the South Deerfield fire station temporarily, while the Sunderland truck would be at that town’s public safety complex.

As the towns transition from three independent departments into a single entity, Deerfield EMS Assistant Director David Zamojski worried about his future in the regional paramedic service.

Zamojski, 54, has worked as one of three full-time Deerfield EMTs for 14 years. He is licensed at the intermediate-level.

“We are nervous about our future employment,” Zamojski said, speaking for the Deerfield employees.

Gilmore said all existing employees will have to apply for jobs in the regional service. Each applicant will be considered based on job requirements that will be determined, Gilmore said.

“It’ll be plenty of work to go around,” Gilmore assured. “But the problem is we’ll have requirements and some people may not want to meet them. I hope this group puts together a good litmus test.”

One of the questions the transition team will have to determine is the benefits. Each town currently provides different benefits for employees.

The next EMS meeting is Dec. 10 at 7 p.m.

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

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