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PEPPERELL — Local firefighters donated $1,000 in early May to help the town upgrade its ambulance service, and they did it in the name of a departed comrade.

The donation will be put toward the purchase of heart monitor, which is a prerequisite for the department’s planned transition to paramedic-level ambulance service. The funds were provided by the department’s ladder company, in honor of Firefighter and EMT Dennis “Den” Connors, who lost his battle with Hodgkins lymphoma last September at the age of 58.

Connors was remembered by Company Capt. Mike Blood as a caring, involved firefighter, who also had a knack for teaching others. After officially presenting the check, Blood added the gift is going toward an appropriate cause.

“Den Connors put a lot of time and a lot of donations into the department,” he said. ” He loved new technology … and the ladder company had some extra money at the end of the year, and we felt he would have liked to have to seen it go toward the department getting some new technology.”

The check was passed to EMS Capt. Jean Taubert, who served alongside Connors for five years, having come on board in Pepperell as part of the same recruiting class. She said the dedication makes this gift very special, adding it’s certainly the type of thing Connors would have supported.

In the big picture, Taubert said Pepperell EMS has been fortunate to receive strong fundraising support for its efforts to purchase equipment for the switch to paramedic service, and she was cautiously optimistic the application paperwork would be filed with the state by July 1. If everything falls into place, she said they could begin offering paramedic level service by September.

Pepperell currently offers EMT intermediate care, and Taubert said the paramedic designation would allow use of the heart monitor and certain medications while en route to the hospital, explained. A certified paramedic herself, she said the department already has personnel for the transition, and is only waiting on the equipment before filing for the new designation.

Taubert added they were able to get a good price on the monitor, which will cost roughly $5,000, plus another $1,500 for a service contract and batteries, which are $200 to $300 apiece. A drug box is also required, but that was donated, she said. The Family Tree Child Care Center and Masi Systems were also thanked for generous gifts.

Taubert said the department is planning to close out its fundraising efforts with the Party Your Heart Out dance at the Knights of Columbus on June 19. Tickets are $10 and event will feature a disc jockey, door prizes and a Chinese raffle. Tickets are available at the Fire Department and through individual firefighters.

While ticket sales and donation collection are just getting underway, Taubert was optimistic this event will get the department to its goal.

“We’ve very close,” she said. “This party will put us right over and it should be a nice celebration at the end.”

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