NORTH ADAMS -- Community members signaled relief on Thursday that emergency medical services would remain within reach in North Berkshire County -- at least for the time being.
"It's essential, we need to have emergency services here in North Adams so people can get stabilized and get the treatment they need," said Al Bashevkin, executive director of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition. "I hope there's a plan to keep the emergency room open and that in three months from now we're not in the same boat."
"Any services that can remain open are critical for not only North Adams, but the community as a whole," said Annie Rodgers, a member of the coalition. "I'm curious to see for how long, and all of the logistics that go along with that. But I think it's a positive step, and speaks to the collective voice the community has put forth in the last few days."
Shawn Godfrey, operations manager for Village Ambulance Service in Williamstown, expressed relief that he wouldn't need to transport North County patients to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield.
"I think cutting back on those extended transport times will be beneficial to patients," he said.
Godfrey said keeping the emergency room open also will be beneficial to his operation, which is organized as a nonprofit.
"It will reduce extra mileage that we put on vehicles and also the general wear and tear," he said. "There will also be more ambulances in Northern Berkshire. If you have four ambulances down at BMC, they each have a 45 minute return time during which they're are out of service."
By Thursday evening, a petition on whitehouse.gov to prevent the hospital's closing had garnered almost 2,000 signatures.
Alexandra Nichipor, a 2012 graduate of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, who started the petition, said she was very happy about the announcement about ER.
"Now we just need to figure out a way to make it stay open forever," she said.
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