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Thurman EMS on verge of dissolving

HAPPIER DAYS — At the conclusion of the Thurman Town Board meeting in November, Thurman EMS squad President Jean Coulard (center) and squad captain John O'Neill (right) exchange friendly compliments with Warrensburg EMS Squad Captain Steve Emerson (left). Since then, the Thurman Town Board withdrew its financial support of the Thurman squad, an action which threatened its survival and prompted the agency's decision this week to dissolve. Warrensburg EMS Board of Directors President Robert Farrell said Jan. 29 that his agency's personnel, if available, would now be responding to calls in Thurman, but would need financial support from the town to continue to respond long-term.

HAPPIER DAYS — At the conclusion of the Thurman Town Board meeting in November, Thurman EMS squad President Jean Coulard (center) and squad captain John O'Neill (right) exchange friendly compliments with Warrensburg EMS Squad Captain Steve Emerson (left). Since then, the Thurman Town Board withdrew its financial support of the Thurman squad, an action which threatened its survival and prompted the agency's decision this week to dissolve. Warrensburg EMS Board of Directors President Robert Farrell said Jan. 29 that his agency's personnel, if available, would now be responding to calls in Thurman, but would need financial support from the town to continue to respond long-term. Photo by Thom Randall.

— Theoretically, the Warrensburg squad could set up a satellite station in Thurman and keep it manned around the clock, he said. But such a scenario would most likely require a financial stipend from the town, considering the low number of calls in Thurman and the expenses involved in staffing the station and paying for the required extensive training. Also, he noted that the townspeople were used to a free service.

“If the town board didn’t want to give us anything, it would crimp our ability to answer calls up there,” Farrell said. “We’re short of money as it is.”

Tuesday afternoon, Warren County Director of Emergency Services Brian LaFlure said he knew of Thurman EMS’ financial troubles, but he hadn’t heard they were shutting down.

“I wish they could have made a go of it, but they don’t have enough runs to break even,” he said. “It’s too bad.”

Farrell and LaFlure said that with the equipment, training and staffing necessary for a modern ambulance squad to provide the advanced life support services people expect, agencies that have few calls are bound to have financial troubles.

Thurman EMS responds to about 100 calls per year, and Warrensburg EMS responds to approximately 1,100.

Farrell noted that in Thurman, the service has been traditionally provided at no cost to the residents, which crimps finances. Farrell said that without subsidy, the amount received from billing patients would hardly pay for the gasoline to send ambulances out — let alone paid qualified staffing.

Thurman Supervisor Evelyn Wood said Tuesday afternoon that she hadn’t heard that Thurman EMS was pursuing plans to dissolve.

“It’s admirable that the Thurman squad has done as well as they have for years,” she said. “But with all the state requirements, it’s difficult for a squad to get by anymore.”

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