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Massachusetts Town Relies on Neighbors’ Ambulances

BILLERICA – The town’s fleet of ambulances is in such sorry shape that it has resorted to relying on assistance from Bedford, Town Manager John Curran confirmed on Friday.

With one ambulance in the shop with a broken transmission, Curran said he’s thankful that there have been no disruptions in service.

“We’re extremely thankful for our neighbor’s help, but at the same time we don’t want to be a tax on another community,” he said.

Relief, however, is on the horizon.

Town Meeting approved a new ambulance last fall. The $225,000 purchase, which should arrive in early October, was drawn from the town’s free-cash reserves.

Curran explained that the town owns a total of three ambulances, with one ambulance dedicated to 24-hour service. The most reliable ambulance, which runs on diesel, also happens to be the oldest.

It’s not the first time in the last year that the town has had to borrow a Bedford ambulance.

Last October, one primary ambulance developed an oil leak while another one suffered a failed alternator.

Curran said the town typically buys a new ambulance every three years, but he added he’s hoping to adopt a policy where one of three ambulances is replaced every two years.

“The wear-and-tear of these ambulances is starting to wear on us,” he said.

Another upgrade he hopes to make is to expand the size of the Police Department’s ambulance bay. Currently the space is too small to house some different makes and models of ambulances.

A $70,000 item exists on the town’s capital plan to lower the bay’s floor clearance. That upgrade is slated for fiscal 2014.

“I guess the short answer is, yes we have an ambulance issue, but thankfully it hasn’t impacted the level of service just yet,” Curran said.