Southern Franklin County town leaders make pitch for regional paramedic ambulance service
DEERFIELD — For more than two years, Select Board members in southern Franklin County have researched, studied, debated and argued about how to create a 24/7 regional paramedic ambulance service for their towns. On Tuesday, it was time for the three Select Boards and EMS directors to make the final pitch.
Fifty-seven people from Deerfield, Sunderland and Whately filed into the Frontier Regional School cafeteria to hear the proposal with Deerfield EMS Director Matt Russo leading the two-hour, tri-town meeting.
Town leaders in Deerfield, Whately and Sunderland are asking voters to support a proposal that would create the South County Emergency Medical Service, which would be Franklin County’s first municipal regional ambulance service.
The primary ambulance would be based at the South Deerfield fire station for up to three years, with an on-call ready reserve ambulance at the Sunderland Public Safety Complex.
The service would cost $749,595 for its first full year, with Deerfield paying $387,990, Sunderland $235,972 and Whately $125,632.
From either location, a fully staffed ambulance could be on scene within 15 minutes or less in 85 percent or more of all EMS responses dispatched, according to the proposal.
Residents will have their say at special Town Meetings in Whately Oct. 15, Sunderland Oct. 18 and Deerfield Oct. 28.
If approved by the three towns, the Board of Oversight would begin the work of building the service and the search for a working director.
The goal is to launch the service in January 2014.
The main sticking point was the makeup of the Board of Oversight — the voting group charged with creating an annual budget and overseeing the proposed ambulance service.
The Select Boards have proposed two voting representatives from each town. In addition, Deerfield would get to appoint a nonvoting member as the fiscal agent handling bills.
Many Deerfield residents argued that with 51 percent of the cost, it should have one more voting member. But the Select Boards emphasized the need for collaboration and used the South County Senior Center Board as a model.
Money, on the other hand, was not a controversial topic as Select Board members tried to emphasize the importance of saving lives over dollars.