NORWAY — Thirty years after becoming a department of Stephens Memorial Hospital, PACE Paramedic Service’s headquarters on lower Main Street is bursting at the seams and in need of a $4 million expansion.

The capital campaign for PACE began last month and had raised $50,000 of Aug. 5.

Last year, SMH assessed the service’s building as a high priority to improve ventilation, add equipment, supplies and storage space, expand living quarters and improve meeting and training spaces for staff and community engagement.

U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, D-Lewiston, is requesting $1.6 million from the Community Project Funding program, a part of the House Appropriations Committee, which invites members of Congress to ask for money to meet urgent needs of communities.

“We get hundreds of requests from all over the district,” Golden said after a recent tour of SMH and PACE facilities. “In the House of Representatives we are only allowed to pick up to 15 projects this year. We have to be really selective.”

U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, center, and PACE Paramedic Service Director Robert Hand discuss space challenges at the service’s building on lower Main Street in Norway as paramedic Krista Bureau listens. A capital campaign to raise $4 million to expand and upgrade the headquarters began last month. Nicole Carter/Advertiser Democrat

Golden said he focuses requests on workforce and training issues, and expanding health care space capacity in rural communities.


PACE is the only paramedic-licensed service in Oxford County, providing emergency service to 18 western Maine communities and seasonally to Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry.

Last year, PACE logged 2,987 emergency call responses, 4,927 ambulance runs, 1,055 hospital transports and 181 intercepts to transport patients requiring a higher level of care than community rescue crews could. That’s according to SMH’s capital campaign literature.

Robert Hand, PACE director of ambulance services Robert Hand, recounted how the headquarters building came to be.

“Kimball Ambulance was a private provider in Norway and was sold to Stephens Memorial Hospital in 1990,” he said. “The hospital paid for the building shell to be constructed and the paramedics and EMTs actually built the interior, for the most part. Since that time, the standards have certainly changed. It is not what you’d see in modern fire department or ambulance bay.”

Hand said that in 1990 the first-responder field was predominantly male. Today about a third of the PACE staff is female.

“We have these bunk rooms and they all have to kind of share a room,” he said. “We want them to feel comfortable and have privacy. There were one-and-a-half crews on back then, now there are three to five crews on, depending on what volume you have.”


When ambulances are brought into the bay, there’s no space for other uses. Storage for supplies and equipment has become limited over time, he said.

“We are pretty cramped,” Hand said. “We carry a lot more gear than we used to. We have to have supply cabinets out in the bay.”

The building’s dated HVAC system also poses a safety hazard to employees from vehicle exhaust.

“You’ve got fumes, ice and salt out there,” he said. “We’d like to have a supply and storage area, and also a training and meeting room.

“I’d like to see a training area big enough so we can have the public, kids, come in for tours,” he said. “We want to do community CPR training, day classes. We’d like to run for instance the Safe Sitter program here.”

Training is mostly done in cramped space in the basement. During the pandemic training was held in the bay.


Sunday River Ski Resort President Dana Bullen said he wholeheartedly supports the expansion.

“The relationship between PACE and Sunday River goes back before my time,” Bullen said. “In-season during open ski hours, a PACE crew is onsite manning a clinic at our base lodge. In an instance where a skier may have an injury beyond what our ski patrol can tend to, like a dislocated collar bone, PACE EMTs will be able to reset the injury.”

Bullen said the EMTs manning the clinic at the lodge have also supported life-saving care and transport for victims of heart attacks to hospitals, and provide follow-up care to visitors and Sunday River staff alike.

“It is a symbiotic relationship,” he said. “I am supporting the renovation financially and personally. Sunday River is providing its financial support.

“We hope that the communities of western Maine and our guests join us to support PACE. They provide incredible care to our guests and our team. We want to make sure this expansion becomes a certainty.”

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