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Ambulance Hybrid Plan Seen as First for Mass.

LOWELL, Mass. -- If Chelmsford, Mass., were to operate a hybrid ambulance service like the one proposed by Town Manager Paul Cohen, it would be the first in Massachusetts to do so.

At a working session last night, the Ambulance Study Committee previewed the findings it will present to the Board of Selectmen on March 24.

The committee found that all Massachusetts communities that operate an ambulance service provide the entire service and do not partner with a private service. Under Cohen's proposal, the Fire Department would operate an ambulance and would be backed up by a private ambulance service during busy periods.

The committee also found that public safety is not compromised when towns operate their own ambulance service.

Committee Chairman John Thibault said it had been difficult to get detailed and up-to-date information from towns that operate ambulance services, but there was little evidence that town-operated ambulances provided a financial boost.

"It clearly was a minority of towns that were saying we're making a lot of money," he said.

Thibault said the committee's recommendations will be hammered out and brought to a vote at the next meeting after the public input session. The public input session will be held Tuesday at the Police Station Community Room.

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