PACE Ambulance Service employees train in a bay at the station next to Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway. Plans are set for additional space for sleeping quarters, training, report-writing and a larger bay for ambulances. Submitted photo

NORWAY — PACE ambulance station’s renovations and upgrades are set to get underway with $1.6 million from the federal government and nearly $600,000 from a capital campaign by Stephens Memorial Hospital.

Built in 1990 mostly by its employees, the service has outgrown its building next to the hospital. It lacks sprinkler and HVAC systems. Upgrades will include additional sleeping quarters for eight, bathroom and shower rooms, a bigger bay for larger ambulances and a heated flooring system. Space for employees to privately complete patient care reports and for group training sessions will be included.

About a third of PACE’s 46 employees are women and the facility has only two dorm-style rooms to house six or more crew members at a time overnight.

“It’s going to be a lot more comfortable for our crews,” PACE Director Robert Hand said. “They need more space. During the pandemic, that need really stood out. We had to maintain space. So crews had to sometimes sit in ambulances or try to find space to hide in between calls. It was tough.”

“We deal with a lot of difficult calls,” Hand said. “It can be anything from traumatic injury to medical events to domestic violence. Having a space to process is important.”

“It’s important that the crews have their privacy,” Abbie Graiver, SMH’s director of community relations, marketing and development, said. “Sometimes they’re going out on very traumatic cases, but they have not had a place where they can return to and kind of decompress before another call.”


In the past two years calls for PACE have increased by a third and intercept calls to assist other local volunteer services with paramedics have increased by 50%, as have community assistance calls.

During the hospital’s facilities planning process, Tim Ingram, senior director for operations and ancillary services for SMH, said, “One of the areas we identified as needing priority is PACE. It’s a wood-framed building, does not meet current codes. It lacks HVAC and ventilation, and from a livability perspective our staff has a lot of gender diversity.”

Ingram noted that a safer and healthier space will improve recruiting and retention efforts and result in a more satisfied workforce in a time when keeping it staffed at all is a challenge.

The capital campaign began in July 2022 and wrapped up at the end of the year. Sunday River Resort in Newry, which utilizes the services of PACE crews during the ski season, hosted a benefit for the renovation during its winter festival, and the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation provided a $50,000 grant. SMH also sponsored a Buy a Brick fundraiser for $50 each.

“We are very proud of what was raised in the capital campaign,” Graiver said. “It was incredibly successful. Typically through our annual fund we raise around $150,000 a year. And this came in at just under $600,000. People can continue to buy a brick, and we’ll incorporate a personal message on their brick.”

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