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Thurman EMS in limbo, agency to reorganize

Checking their ambulance’s inventory of supplies and equipment Tuesday Feb. 5 are Thurman EMS volunteers (clockwise, from left): Becky Desourdy, Acting Thurman EMS Captain Josh Hayes, Ernie Smith and squad treasurer Debbie Runyon.

Checking their ambulance’s inventory of supplies and equipment Tuesday Feb. 5 are Thurman EMS volunteers (clockwise, from left): Becky Desourdy, Acting Thurman EMS Captain Josh Hayes, Ernie Smith and squad treasurer Debbie Runyon. Photo by Thom Randall.

The local ambulance squad has stopped responding to emergency calls, but the agency is not dissolving, according to a statement issued this week by squad President Jean Coulard.

Area emergency officials, including Warrensburg Emergency Medical Services captain Steve Emerson, said that Thurman EMS ceased responding to calls as of Friday Feb. 15. and his agency has been providing services for the southern portion of Thurman for about two weeks.

“We are not officially closing,” the statement from Coulard said. “The Corporation will remain active.”

The email continues that the squad will not be responding to calls, as agency is selling their ambulance.

“We are taking this time to regroup and re-form our agency, she added. “We expect to be up and running in January 2014 at the latest.”

Early this week, Emerson said that the Warrensburg squad has responded to two calls since Thurman EMS ceased operations.

He added that Thurman EMS officials have made an offer to sell their ambulance to his agency, and his board of directors would be considering the transaction.

“Purchasing an ambulance is an involved process,” he said.

Less than two weeks ago, a crowd of 100 or more townspeople jammed the town hall to show support for public support of Thurman EMS, an independent agency.

The board had voted months ago not to allocate money to the squad, citing their lack of Advanced Life Support certification, and how appropriating $35,000 to $75,000 would result in a sharp tax increase, far exceeding the state’s property tax cap.

In response to the turnout at the meeting, board member Leon Galusha proposed an impromptu motion to allocate $62,000 to the squad towards their operations in 2013. The motion was defeated 3-2.

Town Board member Gail Seaman proposed that the Thurman squad seek a merger with Warrensburg EMS, adding that such an action would likely make the combined agency eligible for a $200,000 grant. She noted that such a merger would provide Advanced Life Support, which is increasingly required on routine calls.

Seaman observed that Warrensburg EMS is already responding to most of Thurman’s calls — 60 of 89 for 2012.

The audience rejected the idea, contending that a locally-based squad would answer emergency calls faster, and unlike squads based elsewhere, would give top priority to local calls.

Contacted mid-week, Town Supervisor Evelyn Wood said she wished the agency well on their reorganizational efforts, and she supported the concept of local emergency services coverage, but at a price affordable to taxpayers.

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