UMass provides funding for more ambulances

By Abigail Charpentier

(Collegian File Photo)

For the fifth consecutive year, the University of Massachusetts will pay the town of Amherst an extra $80,000 to fund additional ambulance crews. These crews will serve from  9 p.m. to 7 a.m., Thursday through Saturday, throughout the fall and spring semesters.

“This payment will supplement the robust commitment the town makes on a regular basis to ensure the safety and security of the students and staff at the university,” said Town Manager Paul Bockelman in a press release. “This is but one example of the strong partnership between the town and the university that has been forged over many years.”

Tim Nelson, fire chief of the Amherst Fire Department, said this extra funding will reduce stress on the system, especially because weekend nights usually have a high influx. As the university is willing to work with the town to provide these services for UMass students, it’s a “win-win” for everyone.

“We know it is going to be busy in the early fall, late spring on Friday and Saturday nights. We know that, and most of it is going to be students going out and doing what students do… It is a great thing for both parties,” said Nelson.

Nelson also shared how this arrangement originated over lunch five years ago. Sketched on the back of a napkin, he and representatives from the university worked out the numbers and details on how they would go about the new plan.

The fire chief explained that the university and its’ student body are often blamed for causing problems; in reality, only a few students need their services after drinking too much.

“Ninety-nine percent of the students here are here to learn and to have fun, and that’s great. It’s a good place to be. It’s a small percentage of folks here that are causing issues,” he said.

Like UMass and the town of Amherst, the Campus and Community Coalition are trying to find new solutions and strategies on ways to prevent high-risk drinking. It consists of administrators and public safety officials, elected officials, business organizations and representatives and community members from Amherst and Hadley, as well as UMass administrators. The UMass Executive Director of External Relations and University Events Tony Maroulis thinks of it as “a science and solutions-based partnership.”

Last year, the group created the Party Smart Registration, which allows off-campus students to register their party. If the party gets too big or noisy, Amherst Police Department will give the host a courtesy call and 20 minutes to break up the party.

According to Maroulis, the program “had a successful pilot during the 2016-17 academic year.”

The stated intent of the funding is to protect students. As Nelson stated, “We [the Amherst Fire Dept. and UMass] want this to be the best four years of students’ lives. We don’t want it to be the last four years of your life.”

Abigail Charpentier can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @abigailcharp.