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Deerfield Select Board pledges support to regional paramedic ambulance service

On Tuesday, the Deerfield Select Board reassured its partner towns that it would support the regional proposal, despite questions raised in that town in recent weeks.

“We support the regional plan as long as it is able to move forward,” said Select Board Chairman Mark Gilmore. “We committed to the other two towns that we’d support this if they did, and it passed their meetings. Our point of view is to see this through, but we have an alternate plan to see 24/7 paramedic ambulance service for the town of Deerfield.”

Select Board member Carolyn Shores Ness said, “I would recommend the regional. I haven’t changed my position. I think it is more sustainable in the long run. My only subtext is if (Whately or Sunderland) doesn’t support it, we’re moving forward no matter what.”

David Wolfram, the newest board member, also said he favors the regional plan.

Earlier this month, the regional plan met its first major roadblock in two years when Deerfield surprised its partner towns by discussing two options for its voters to consider — the regional service or an expanded local service.

On Sept. 6, the Deerfield board met with town employees inside the police department, where employees told the board they would prefer an expanded local EMS option. Deerfield EMS Director Matt Russo prepared budgets for the two scenarios.

Gilmore said a Deerfield-only option would ensure that it improves its service no matter how the other towns vote.

The cost for the regional service for the three towns is $749,595. This includes $638,895 for an operating budget and $110,700 for capital expenses.

Under the regional service, Deerfield’s 51.76 percent share would be $387,990. Sunderland would contribute 31.48 percent, or $235,972, and Whately would pay 16.76 percent, or $125,632.

The Deerfield-only option would also provide 24/7 paramedic coverage for $352,931. Sixteen of those hours would have a basic or intermediate schedule and the overnight hours would be covered by on-call staff, Russo said. There would be seven full-time employees.

With support from all three boards, the South County EMS Planning Group forged ahead.

Tentative special Town Meeting dates are Oct. 15 in Whately, Oct. 18 in Sunderland, and Oct. 21 in Deerfield.

A public information session is proposed for Oct. 1 at Frontier Regional School if the space is available.

The planning group also agreed that if a town opts out of the service after one year, it would get back the assets it contributed.

According to the inter-municipal agreement, the towns will make a list of their current assets. The Board of Oversight will then review the list and choose which items it will use for the regional service.

At the request of Shores Ness, Deerfield would be the fiscal agent.

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