Southern Berkshire Ambulance Squad seeks financial support

William Hathaway, director of operations at Great Barrington-based Southern Berkshire Ambulance Squad. (Emily Thurlow)

GREAT BARRINGTON — For the first time in its more than 50 years of existence, Southern Berkshire Ambulance Squad is requesting financial backing from the towns it provides service to.
William Hathaway, director of operations at Great Barrington-based Southern Berkshire Ambulance Squad, appeared before the Great Barrington Selectboard and Finance Committee during a Tuesday, Feb. 11 joint meeting between the to detail the entity’s proposal.
In the proposal, the nonprofit ambulance provider is requesting an annual subsidy from each of the towns that it supplies service to, including the towns of Alford, Ashley Falls, Egremont, Great Barrington, Housatonic, Monterey, Mount Washington and Sheffield. The request is based on a three-year average call volume in each community, said Hathaway. For Great Barrington and Housatonic, Southern Berkshire has requested a stipend to provide ambulance services for fiscal year 2020-2021 of $147,000.
The request for Great Barrington and Housatonic to provide a subsidy will help make up for the difference in the cost of providing services versus reimbursement, said Hathaway. In budget year 2018, Southern Berkshire calculated that the average cost of a 911 call was $594. The income received from that call, taking into account bad debt, federally mandated contractual adjustments and “non-transports,” — which means that despite a call, no transport was performed — averaged $432 per call, according to the organization’s proposal. This accounts for a deficit of $162 per call, with the current three-year 911 call volume for Great Barrington and Housatonic totaling to 807 responses, which amounts to a deficit of $131,000, according to Hathaway’s proposal.

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