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Canaan Ambulance Plans Bigger Home

Canaan — Canaan’s ambulance service hopes to literally bridge the gap between the police and fire departments next month with a proposed 2,200 square-foot building placed between the existing police and fire stations.

The building would house the First Aid Stabilization Team (FAST) Squad’s operations and accommodate space for a third ambulance that would provide private, non-emergency transportation to improve care and bring in additional revenue.

FAST Squad Vice President Carol Goodman said everything is ready in terms of starting the project, except for approval from the town’s Planning Board. But Goodman said she feels confident the board will green light the proposed $455,000 project at its Aug. 8 meeting.

Along with the building serving as a home for a third ambulance, it will feature two bunk rooms for overnight staff — the squad hopes to transition from on-call services to 24 hours, said Town Administrator Mike Samson. The squad has one full-time and one part-time EMT, and the rest volunteers.

“They haven’t been able to do it in the past, but will be able to now give us 24-hour a day coverage on site,” Samson said. “Which makes it a much quicker service.”

The FAST Squad plans to borrow $320,000 from Mascoma Savings Bank to cover two-thirds of the cost. The balance will be paid from approximately $100,000 that has been set aside from revenue and the remainder from grants and donations, Samson said.

The squad’s annual income is about $160,000, which breaks down to $100,000 from fees paid by insurance companies or the patients and $60,000 from the towns. Samson said. Towns served by the ambulance are Canaan, Orange and Dorchester, with mutual aid provided to Grafton and Enfield.

Currently the ambulance service responds only to emergency calls and doesn’t provide private or non-emergency transports. But that will change with the new building.

With the addition of the third ambulance, which the squad hopes to purchase by the first of the year, according to Police Chief Sam Frank, the squad will be able to provide additional services.

“If you have to go in for cancer treatment or dialysis, that’s the business they are going to go into. There is a huge demand for that up here,” Frank said. “It will also bring in more revenue and that will help cut the costs and to keep costs down.”

Frank estimated construction on the building would begin in mid-August.

Squad Vice President Goodman said once the building is finished, the squad will move forward with the purchase of the new vehicle. Goodman said an ambulance costs about $120,000, but that does not include costs to equip it with state-mandated equipment and supplies. She said fundraising and grants should pay for the ambulance.

“Ambulances aren’t getting any smaller,” she added, explaining another issue with the squad’s current location inside the police corridors. “(The space) is very tight, four inches on either side of the mirrors,” she said.

Having the ambulance in its own space will also alleviate safety issues with the police department’s transport, as the two currently share a bay and some storage area, Goodman said.

Goodman said a similar project, with more square footage, was proposed three years ago to the Selectboard but was rejected. She said the building costs were entirely funded by grants but the town would have had to pay for utlities — much like they will have to do with the new building.

“They didn’t want to bear this,” she said. “They had too many questions and weren’t comfortable.”

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.