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November 20, 2013

EMS volunteer woes spark discussion

(Continued)

“Our aging population, particularly our 75 to 85, has boomed,” Bashaw said. “It’s (the cost) coming back down to the locals, just like everything else coming down these days.”

DISTANCE ISSUES

The remote location of Adirondack communities, far from hospitals, also impacts volunteerism, Bashaw said.

“I work every other weekend for Newcomb, and we are so rural that some of those calls are taking three, four hours. So being gone most of the day is kind of an issue, too.”

Supervisor Sue Montgomery Corey (D-Minerva) said that paid EMS squads are something many Adirondack towns are considering.

“One of the barriers that places like Minerva are looking at is that our EMS is tied to our Fire Department. Because they are one organization, the state has a law on the books that says that a joint organization can’t bill for ambulance calls,” she said.

“That’s a law that needs to be changed. Sen. (Betty) Little has worked on that, and that’s something that over the next year I think we should take up as part of our legislative package.”

EMS services in both Champlain and Mooers are examples of organizations that split off from fire departments in order to be able to charge for services and therefore afford some paid staff.

COUNTYWIDE EMS?

Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava (R-Moriah) said one option they could consider is forming a countywide EMS district that would have billing and taxing authority.

“It is a problem in my community and probably every community. We should think about forming a countywide district for health care for the emergency services, the ambulance services,” he said.

“Then the county can bill back insurance and so on.”

A town can assume the operating license, called a certificate of need, from a fire department for an ambulance squad, Supervisor Randy Preston (I-Wilmington) noted.

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