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Northern Berkshire EMS announced a few grants they have received over the years throughout the pandemic.
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Meaney said now every ambulance will have an AED.
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Meaney said the new equipment is all top of the line.

Northern Berkshire EMS Receives $665K In Grants

Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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The Toyota was purchased from K-M Toyota in North Adams and will eventually be lettered.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass.— Northern Berkshire EMS announced three different Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants the service has received over the past few years through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program.
"We have been dealing with COVID, so we have been really isolated and really haven't done any proper announcements on these grants," General Manager John Meaney Jr. said at a small press conference Monday, Dec. 5. "...This money is certainly helpful to our organization and allows us to plan into the future and utilize capital funding for other projects."
A $48,000 grant from fiscal year 2019 funded the purchase of a community paramedic van that will be used in the ambulance services' Community EMS Program. This includes the post-overdose outreach and the car seat passenger safety programs. 
"This is one of those vehicles that's kind of versatile, and it's not your standard ambulance by any means. It doesn't look like an ambulance and allows us to bring different equipment to different populations that we serve."
The van will also be used in the EMS's emerging Mobile Integrated Health Program that Northern Berkshire EMS plans to roll out in the coming year.
"Hopefully we'll be able to navigate that into mobile-integrated health," Meaney said. "We aren't quite there yet." 
Mobile Integrated Health aims to provide quality and cost-effective medical care by coordinating resources among EMS staff, hospitals, insurance companies, and in-home caregivers.
"It will allow individuals in a nonemergency situation to get some interventions and decrease some of the taxing effects in the emergency room," said Amalio Jusino, grant writer and president of Emergency Response Consulting. "It gives that face-to-face integration with a medical provider."
The Toyota was purchased from K-M Toyota in North Adams and will eventually be lettered.
A second $26,000 grant from fiscal year 2020 will be used to purchase 10 Automatic External Defibrillators (AED).
"This will replace our aging AEDs that we have, but also allows us to expand and get AEDs in every ambulance essentially," Meaney said. "Also, it will allow us to put AEDs in the two stations."
Currently, both the North Adams and Williamstown stations do not have AEDs. If all of the ambulances are out, staff do not have access to AEDs in the station. Meaney said people often stop at the station with medical emergencies so the permanent AEDs will be good to have.
The largest of the three grants is a $591,000 fiscal year 2021 grant. $499,000  will fund the purchase of 11 cardiac monitors to replace aging equipment. 
"We are fortunate to have these funding opportunities through FEMA and Homeland Security that allow us to stay in times with technology," Jusino said. "That allows our employees to feel like they are a valued service and are not using old obsolete equipment."
$92,000 will be used to provide training for up to 6 EMTs to upgrade to the paramedic level.  Also, the funds will allow Northern Berkshire EMS to train up to four paramedics to the community paramedic level to support both the Community EMS program and the Mobile Integrated Health Program.
"With this funding, we will be able to increase the knowledge base internally. That person in the organization that may not be able to fund themselves to go to training or even with our offset tuition programs it could still be difficult," Jusino said. "This is 100 percent funding."
The AFG Program provides direct federal financial assistance to eligible fire departments, nonaffiliated EMS organizations, and State Fire Training Academies. 

Tags: FEMA,   grants,   Northern Berkshire EMS,   

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Adams COA, Town Seek Funds for Memorial Building Bathrooms

By Brian RhodesiBerkshires Staff

ADAMS, Mass. — The Council on Aging is still waiting to transition its programming from the Visitor Center to the Memorial Building and is looking to the Community Development Department for help. 

The COA has been waiting for additional bathroom facilities to be completed for the facility, but the council and the town have so far been unable to obtain grant or other funding for the work.


COA Director Sarah Fontaine said they are working with Community Development to find funds for the bathrooms and other small improvements, including increased entrance accessibility, renovations to the former music room and fixed windows. 


"I had voiced my concern. It's a very extensive list, I don't expect that it will all be done before we transition over. The only need is the bathrooms," Fontaine said. 


At last week's Board of Selectmen meeting, Community Development Director Eammon Coughlin said he looked into using Community Development Block Grant funds for the project. He said, however, that the Memorial Building is ineligible.


"The guidance we received from [the state Department of Housing and Community Development] has basically told us that the building is ineligible for funding because we already received funding in 2018," he said. "There has to be five years between the application for senior-center type projects. So based on that guidance, I don't believe Memorial School is eligible for funding."  


Fontaine also mentioned the auditorium in the building, which the town plans to renovate separately as a future capital project. 


"It would be nice as a senior center to have the auditorium available for guest lectures and other things like that," she said. 


Moving staff to the Memorial Building now while keeping programming at the Visitor Center, Fontaine said, is not an option. She noted that the Hoosac Valley Regional School District had previously expressed interest in using the second floor of the Visitor Center for its office space. 


"I was very firm in saying, logistically, it's hard for us to manage things just being upstairs. It's going to be very difficult if we're off site to try and manage programs downstairs," she said. 


In other business: 


  • The Council on Aging is looking for volunteers to fill vacancies on its advisory board. It filled one of the vacancies on Wednesday, appointing Barbara Ziemba. Ziemba, an active participant in the COA, had already filled out the paperwork needed for her appointment. 


"I have attended many COA activities, volunteer, and am a member of the Friends of the Council on Aging and attend meetings. I have been interested in being a member of the Board of Directors for some time. Please consider my appointment to the board," Ziemba wrote, explaining in her paperwork why she was interested in the position.           


The group also discussed two other vacancies on the board and potential candidates to fill them. Two members have been unable to attend recent meetings for health reasons. 


  • The board voted to approve updated bylaws. The bylaws were revised and written primarily by Board Member Elizabeth Mach. 


"I just wanted to make a comment, or rather an appreciation, for Liz for taking this project on," Fontaine said. 


The new bylaws have a provision to allow honorary members. Fontaine said there are currently no honorary members. 


The board appointed Bruce Shepley as the board's chair to replace Barbara Lagowski, who filled one of the now vacant member seats. 

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