PLATTSBURGH — The Churubusco, Ellenburg Center and Ellenburg Depot volunteer fire departments, collectively, respond to about 250 emergency medical calls each year, taking patients to either Alice Hyde or CVPH medical centers.
That’s a tough job for too-few emergency medical technicians in the volunteer ranks, officials say.
So volunteers from those departments have joined forces, hoping to create a nonprofit called Northern Adirondack EMS.
“It’s going to be a unified system,” said Paul Harriman of Ellenburg Depot, who volunteers as a critical-care EMT and a firefighter.
He and Greg Poupore, a Churubusco Fire Department volunteer, are heading the effort.
ONE AMBULANCE DISTRICT
Currently, they are approaching the towns that fall within the departments’ combined territories, asking them to establish an ambulance district.
That would generate funds for the nonprofit services, as the district would be able to create a budget and set a tax rate for those who live within it.
“We’re going to create a big ambulance district that encompasses these three fire districts,” he said.
As an ambulance district, the nonprofit would also be able to bill patients and health-insurance companies, which would offset the cost to the taxpayer, Harriman explained.
“The community is going to have a better service,” he said. “This, we feel, is the best option out there.”
By combining resources, the ambulance service would have better communication and more volunteers available, he said.
The nonprofit hopes to have two paid staff members by 2015, which would ease the burden on the volunteers.
Harriman said that not as many people are able to give time to their fire departments these days.
“There are very few young people coming into the volunteer service,” he said.
Take Churubusco Fire Department, for example, which has only six EMTs signed on.
While volunteerism is dropping, Harriman has noticed an increase in EMS calls, something he attributes to the aging population of the communities.