South County EMS analyzing mutual aid calls


Staff Writer

Published: 07-25-2023 1:42 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — With South County EMS analyzing several aspects of its operations as it prepares to find a new chief, its Board of Oversight is also taking a look at the number of mutual aid calls the agency accepts.

Of its 678 calls from January through June, 567 have been emergency responses to the three member towns of Deerfield, Sunderland and Whately; 72 have been to Greenfield; and 13 have been to Conway.

The remaining calls are scattered around Franklin and Hampshire counties, according to data shared by interim chief Tim Drumgool last week.

The main focus has been on the number of emergency responses to Greenfield, with the city representing approximately 65% of all the agency’s mutual aid requests.

“It’s a conversation we’re all going to have,” Drumgool said. At a previous meeting, he explained that any time South County EMS is called to Greenfield, even if the call is canceled or taken over by another agency before first responders arrive, they have to write up a report. “That would be reflected in those Greenfield numbers.”

Additionally, Board of Oversight and Deerfield Select Board member Tim Hilchey said that South County EMS is on track to double last year’s mutual aid call load to Greenfield.

The number of mutual aid calls, Drumgool cautioned at a July 6 Board of Oversight meeting, is not “Greenfield dumping calls on us they don’t want to do.”

Greenfield Fire Chief Robert Strahan said South County EMS is the primary mutual aid partner for Greenfield if both his department and American Medical Response (AMR) are unavailable. South County EMS is also the primary paramedic intercept for Greenfield, however, Strahan said that type of call volume is low.

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In regard to the number of mutual aid calls South County EMS receives, Strahan said their general call volume has been trending upward in recent years and emergencies can happen anytime.

“We’ve been seeing an increase in calls over the last few years. The emergency ambulance business is not something you can pin down,” Strahan said. “We have periods of time where we have four or five medical calls going on at the same time.”

In essence, he summarized, mutual aid is exactly what it says it is: mutual. Departments all share the same end goal of working together to ensure everyone is cared for.

Drumgool said mutual aid had been requested 36 times to South County EMS’ territory in the last six months, which Board of Oversight Chair Tom Fydenkevez said is an impressive figure, considering the area the agency covers.

“I’m still pretty amazed we’re only averaging six mutual aid calls a month, which is pretty damn good,” he said. “We cover a pretty wide swath.”

Fydenkevez and the rest of the Board of Oversight said Drumgool should continue sharing data as it comes in and then the board can follow through as it deems necessary. He added this may be a topic the three towns’ selectboards need to bring up to Greenfield leadership because it’s a “political thing that the boards would be much better handling than our Board of Oversight.”

Board of Oversight member Matthew Russo said South County EMS should be aware of trends in mutual aid numbers, but, making the same point Strahan made, noted that no one can predict when emergencies will happen.

“At the end of the day, I don’t think this agency or any emergency agency will be prepared to respond to all emergencies at once,” Russo said. “You do the best you can with what you’ve got.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at or 413-930-4081.]]>