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Despite public outcry, Thurman board signs with Warrensburg EMS

At a public hearing in Thurman on EMS services, Warrensburg Emergency Medical Services Operations Manager Steve Emerson reads a statement to the Thurman Town  Board, questioning the Thurman squad’s finances and viability. After about 150 minutes of public remarks that followed — most all in support of funding the Thurman squad, the town board approved a two-year contract with Warrensburg EMS.

At a public hearing in Thurman on EMS services, Warrensburg Emergency Medical Services Operations Manager Steve Emerson reads a statement to the Thurman Town Board, questioning the Thurman squad’s finances and viability. After about 150 minutes of public remarks that followed — most all in support of funding the Thurman squad, the town board approved a two-year contract with Warrensburg EMS. Photo by Thom Randall.

— Warrensburg EMS Operations Manager Steve Emerson raised such concerns.

“The income from billing such a low call volume is grossly insufficient,” he said.

He continued that he’d examined Thurman EMS’ finances, and the squad would likely experience a shortfall of about $128,000 after another year’s operation. If Thurman EMS actually achieved full ALS certification, their annual budget might swell to as much as $400,000, he predicted.

Resident Susan Kline and many others expressed concern over allocating money for the Warrensburg-based agency, while bypassing the town’s local squad.

“If we are gutted as a community — if we lose our community identity — there’s nothing left,” she said.

Lorrie Smith, one of the early volunteers in the Thurman squad, said Basic Life Support services provided vital first response, and should be funded by the town.

“BLS service is very, very important,” she said. “I think it’s terrible what’s happening to this town.”

Thurman resident Sally Wallace suggested that the town should contract with Thurman EMS instead of Warrensburg EMS — and the local squad could transport patients part-way, with Warrensburg’s ALS-certified squad providing “intercept” service, or taking over care en route to the hospital.

Board member Gail Seaman responded that regional EMS officials were now calling ALS certified response rather to patients’ homes, rather than BLS-level service.

Emerson noted that Warrensburg EMS was now responding to two-thirds of the calls in Thurman.

Thurman resident Patrick Eldridge noted how his wife had suffered a heart tumor and life-threatening blood clots, and the Stony Creek EMS responded in 30 to 45 minutes, but the Warrensburg ALS crew arrived in a lengthy 30 to 45 minutes, he said.

“The driver didn’t even know the quicker way back to Warrensburg,” he said.

The board members were accused of not listening or responding to the public’s wishes.

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