SBA provides comprehensive mobile integrated healthcare and emergency medical services in Southern Berkshire County, for both 911 calls and inter-facility transports from Fairview Hospital, an affiliate of Berkshire Health Systems
Before the inception of the Ambulance Squad in 1968, Fairview Hospital was responsible for ambulance service in Southern Berkshire. On November 12, 1967, a serious automobile accident occurred in the town of Egremont. Due to the dispatch system in use at that time, the ambulance didn’t arrive for 40 minutes. This situation cast Fairview and its ambulance service into the public spotlight. Since the fire department couldn’t provide ambulance service, the organization of a separate emergency medical service was begun.
The Southern Berkshire Volunteer Ambulance Squad was officially organized on March 15, 1968 and incorporated in April of that same year. The first ambulance was donated by the American Legion Posts 127 and 298, radios were donated by the Lions Club, and Fairview provided a $10,000 grant to start construction of a garage and meeting room.
In 1973, several of the 46 members had completed the 81-hour EMT Course, and by the end of 1975, 85% of the Squad were Nationally Registered EMTs. During the late 70’s, emergency equipment and training were offered to police and fire departments in our service area. In 1980, SBVAS became an Advanced Life Support Service when several EMTs gained certification as EMT-Intermediates.
Throughout the 80’s, skills were enhanced, equipment upgraded and services extended. Automatic External Defibrillators (AED’s) were introduced during this period, and squad members became certified. In 1987, the first helicopter intercept protocols were developed. Today, there are three such services available to SBVAS, with response time generally under 20 minutes.
The 90’s were marked by dramatic events. With the help of community donations, the squad was expanded from a garage with just a single room attached to the larger facility that you see today. The Memorial Day Tornado in 1995, which left 3 dead and 23 injured, demonstrated the value of Mass Casualty Training. The 90’s also saw SBVAS respond to 5 plane crashes.
In August of 2014 SBVAS successfully licensed at the Paramedic level and hired an initial 4 Paramedics. At that time a third ambulance was added. At the same time the Squad increased staffing from one 24/7 crew to two crews. Narcan and glucometry were added to the provider list.
Today, Southern Berkshire Ambulance (SBA) has 10 full time Paramedics, 6 Advanced EMTs and 23 EMTs providing coverage 24/7, 365. We have 12 full time and 27 part time and volunteer members. SBA provides service to the largest geographic coverage area in Massachusetts. Towns served include Alford, Ashley Falls, Egremont, Great Barrington, Housatonic, Monterey, Mount Washington and Sheffield and mutual aid agreements with 6 additional neighboring municipalities. Call volume averages approximately 3,800 per year.