Ambulance head leaving Middlebury
MIDDLEBURY — Bill Edson has spent his career helping people, whether it be coaching high school athletes, helping to heal hospital patients, providing aid to soldiers in harm’s way, or driving an ambulance to the scene of an accident.
Now, after six very productive years leading Middlebury Regional EMS, Edson has decided to make a detour in his professional life. He’ll still be helping people, though he’s finally decided to put down his stethoscope and turn in his ambulance keys.
Edson, 50, is leaving Middlebury Regional EMS to become executive director of the Montachusett Veterans Outreach Center (MVOC) in Gardner, Mass. Established in 1981, the MVOC is a private, nonprofit organization that provides support to military veterans and their families. Those services include low-income housing, counseling, case management, job training, personal development, veterans’ benefits resource assistance, housing, medical transportation and food assistance.
“It’s the region’s leading veterans’ outreach center,” Edson said, noting the MVOC draws clients from throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire and southern Maine. Edson is himself a veteran, having served in the U.S. Army from 1983 to 2007. He retired with the rank of sergeant 1st class senior medic. He served one tour in Iraq, from 2005-2006, with Task Force Sabre of the Vermont Army National Guard. It’s a unit that conducted operations in and near Ramadi, and Edson is among returning veterans who have experienced symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He believes his background makes him a good fit to lead the MVOC.
“(The position) was very attractive to me,” Edson said. “There’s nothing like it here in Vermont. I think I am a creature of opportunity and I am always looking for other ways to be of positive influence. The veterans’ community is of obvious interest to me because of my military background … I’ve been contemplating getting out of health care, but I’d been in health care my whole life. This is another way to compassionately serve others without it directly being linked to health care.”
Edson moved to Middlebury in 1988 from Fayetteville, N.C. He moved here to be closer to his parents and to enjoy the quality of life that Addison County has to offer. He worked as a registered nurse in Porter Hospital’s operating room for 12 years. It was while at Porter that he met his wife, Carol, a fellow RN and the current supervisor of Porter’s ambulatory and out-patient surgery unit. They combined their two households of two children each and had a fifth together. Those children have all grown up and left for school or job opportunities.
“We had to fight the empty nest syndrome,” Edson said. “We had to reinvent ourselves as the two of us.”
It was a reinvention process that allowed them to consider new professional and residential opportunities. Edson landed the MVOC job and Carol Edson will look for a health care job in the area. They will move to Peterborough, N.H., which provides a quick commute to Gardner, Mass., and is also close to the couple’s only current grandchildren.
“We’re very excited about the move,” Edson said.
But it was not an easy decision.
The couple has become quite invested in the Middlebury community through the years. Edson coached track and field and baseball at Middlebury Union High School for many years. In 2008, he took the top administrative job at what was then known as the Middlebury Volunteer Ambulance Association, then shoehorned in a building at 19 Elm St.
It was during Edson’s watch that the MVAA made its transition to a new, 11,860-square-foot headquarters completed at 55 Collins Drive (in 2010). The MVAA recently changed its name to Middlebury Regional EMS, to reflect a new range of services that include an around-the-clock communications center that offers dispatching and pager services to public and private organizations and individuals throughout the country; educational programming; and billing for other ambulance and emergency services organizations nationwide.
Middlebury Regional EMS serves 10 Addison County communities covering a population of roughly 18,000 people over 400 square miles. The organization has a yearly budget of nearly $1.2 million with 60 full- and part-time workers, half of whom are volunteers. The organization responds to approximately 2,200 calls each year.
“I think what I’m most proud of is that we have an organization that has transformed into a professional entity that provides the highest level of care that can be provided,” Edson said. “We do it consistently and with a sense of compassion… The people who work for this organization care about caring for other people. I’m proud of the fact the organization is in a good place, and it’s not about who’s leading the organization; it’s about the people.”
Edson said he’s also pleased that Middlebury Regional EMS has established itself as a player within Addison County’s overall health care community.
“We’re more than just a 911 phone call now,” Edson said. “We’re an organization that can give back to the community in many ways.”
It is the sound state of Middlebury Regional EMS that helped make Edson’s decision to leave a little easier.
Edson gave his notice at the beginning of this month and will be starting at the MVOC on May 1. The Middlebury Regional EMS board met Monday night to plan short- and long-term strategies for filling Edson’s position. Regional EMS board Chairman Michael Roy said current staff members Chuck Welch and Shyla Clark will serve as co-directors of the organization in the short term. Board members will see how that system works and decide whether to stick with a co-director format or embark on a search for a new executive director, according to Roy.
He thanked Edson for the big role he has played in the organization’s growth during recent years.
“We thank Bill for his many years of service and for revitalizing Middlebury Region EMS into a far more professional organization that has been increasing services provided to the community,” Roy said. “We wish him well in his new endeavors in Massachusetts.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].
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