Bedford Fire Department an Option Once Base’s Rescue Contract Expires

May 15, 2024
Bedford may be providing advanced life support transport services to some 12,000 people at Hanscom Air Force Base beginning on Oct. 1. Courtesy Image

Bedford may be providing advanced life support transport services to some 12,000 people at Hanscom Air Force Base beginning on Oct. 1.

Municipal and public safety leaders from the four surrounding towns are discussing possible options after the base’s agreement with Action Ambulance of Wilmington expires on Sept. 30.      

Bedford Town Manager Matt Hanson said Air Force officials informed the towns in March.

“For decades, Hanscom Air Force Base has had a stable ambulance service contract, but due to recent Defense Health Agency funding cuts, we may be losing that contract later this year,” explained Russ Kelly, base public affairs chief. “We are working with our partners at DHA to find the best solution for our base population past Sept. 30.” 

Most of that population is present only on weekdays, as Hanscom AFB has a workforce of some 10,000 people. There are 700 units of base housing that is geographically in Lincoln.

Hanson said the area town managers and chiefs “provided feedback to the base on how they may be able to modify their request for proposals to obtain a more affordable contract from a different private ambulance provider. The leadership of the base is pursuing that option.”

Kelly confirmed that the Air Force is exploring a range of solutions. “There is a requirement to provide EMS service for Hanscom Air Force Base, and we are exploring multiple options at the local, state, and federal levels to meet that need.”

But the spokesman indicated that the towns could be the fallback. 

“We can’t speak for the towns surrounding Hanscom AFB, but we have a long history of working together collaboratively and we have been very appreciative of the support we’ve received. We look forward to continuing to strengthen those partnerships,” said Kelly.

Hanson said the Air Force “has informed the towns that they will continue to pursue public-private partnerships for ambulance service if their efforts to identify a private vendor are unsuccessful.

“The cost, design, and selected host community for a public-private partnership is yet to be determined and will only be finalized if no private option is obtained by the base,” he said.

The base does have a fire department and participates in mutual aid with the surrounding towns.

One possibility discussed would be “true automatic aid between base and towns,” with the closest ambulance responding to an emergency call. 

The conversations include “intergovernmental support agreements,” incentives the Air Force could provide in exchange for ambulance coverage, such as an engine and four personnel to cover for the paramedics dispatched.

Other agreements mentioned include additional staffing in general; fire apparatus repair by the Air Force vendor; embedding a dispatcher to help handle emergency calls; and use of the Mobile command post trailer for use on large community events.

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