RICHFORD — The town of Richford is currently in talks to partner with Amcare Ambulance Service.
According to Selectboard member Sherry Paquette, the town has been discussing the matter with the company for six months.
She says the latest meeting took place in a closed executive session on Feb. 10.
“We heard what Amcare had to say to us and what they could offer. That’s all it was ... it was just what they had to offer to us. We’re just visiting different thoughts and different ideas about ways to keep our service going and make sure it works for taxpayers.”
Still, the issue has drawn ire on social media.
Concerned residents have voiced disappointment and frustration over what they see as the Richford Selectboard selling out the Richford ambulance service. Paquette is cautioning residents to wait for facts.
“Everything is blowing up and everyone is like we sold this ambulance service and we haven’t done anything. All we’re doing is collecting information to bring to them to see if it’s something that works for them too. They’re our service … We don’t want to lose our service. There’s nothing signed. It hasn’t been sold out,” she said.
Paquette wasn’t able to provide exact details of how a potential deal would work, or what it would provide, but did say it would also save a substantial amount for taxpayers.
“They offered benefits and 401k and retirement and health insurance and all that type of stuff,” she said. “Our thought was to bring it to and present it to our ambulance service and see what their thoughts are doing on it.”
Enosburg Town Clerk Billie-Jo Draper says Richford works with Enosburg to provide EMS service to the neighboring towns of Berkshire, Bakersfield, Franklin and Montgomery.
“So, that means that if Enosburg is sitting at the station and we’re not out on a call, when the tones go out for that particular town, Enosburg reponds unless otherwise toned out to a different scene ... and then Richford backs us up,” Draper said.
Both towns have been struggling in the past year to provide service but Draper says Enosburg has only had informal talks with Amcare.
“We want to try to save money. We want to help each other in terms of coverage. So, yes we did talk to Amcare but it was nothing like the conversation that would go on from a company that would be buying them,” said Draper.
Paquette says a deal would expand capacity to provide for the community while saving money and taking care of town employees.
“It would save a lot of money if we went another way. I don’t want to release anything. It will be at the town meeting though ... all the numbers will be,” she said.