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South County EMS

South County EMS receives $160,620

SOUTH DEERFIELD — A huge weight has lifted off the shoulders of southern Franklin County’s selectmen, and fire and ambulance chiefs who promised townspeople they could create a sustainable regional paramedic service this year.

On Thursday, town leaders in Deerfield, Whately and Sunderland learned they received their full request of $160,620 from the annual state Community Innovation Challenge Grant — much anticipated money intended to help launch the South County Emergency Medical Service.

The money will be used to pay for the start-up process for the paramedic service, including some equipment and infrastructure needs.

The grant is one of seven Community Innovation Grants awarded totaling over $720,000 and involving Franklin County towns as part of a $4 million program to support regionalization efforts statewide.

The three towns have created the state’s first inter-municipal paramedic ambulance service that will operate 24 hours, seven days a week.

The funding is a relief to town leaders. At the special town meetings last October, part of their pitch to townspeople to approve and pay for the paramedic service was that some of the start-up costs could be decreased if the towns received the grant.

Voters agreed to pay $749,595 for the new ambulance service. The grant will help offset some of that.

“This makes a huge difference,” Deerfield Selectman Mark Gilmore said Thursday. “It takes a lot of pressure and money away from the start-up process. We can spend more time making it work than figuring out how to pay for it. This gives us a boost and we can dedicate resources to the start-up.”

Deerfield Selectman Carolyn Shores Ness said the money makes the ambulance service more economically feasible and sustainable.

“We’re absolutely excited and thrilled,” Shores Ness said. “We’re pleased because the town supported the EMS effort even though we couldn’t guarantee the grant.”

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

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