Thurman residents confronting their town board over providing support for their struggling local ambulance squad heard from an area emergency official Tuesday March 12 that a regional solution for providing Advanced Life Support through the rural areas of Warren County was now under consideration.
At a town board meeting Tuesday, county Emergency Services Director Brian LaFlure told about 65 Thurman residents that their dilemma in keeping their local ambulance squad afloat — because of constrained finances and lack of round-the-clock trained staff — reflected problems faced by rural towns across the state and nation.
In response to their concerns about the availability of EMS services, LaFlure said that he has been discussing with county officials a system of regional emergency medical coverage that calls for a half-dozen trained ALS responders roving the rural areas of the county, ready to respond in “fly cars” that could arrive at a scene faster than a fully staffed ambulance could. Such roving ALS responders would supplement local squads providing Basic Life Support services, he said. Such a system has proven effective and cost-efficient in Columbia County, he said.
The dilemma volunteer ambulance squads are facing, county EMS Coordinator Micki Guy said, was the prevailing decline in volunteerism, coupled with the spiraling increase in training requirements for EMS responders.
She noted that while in past decades one adult's wages would support a household, leaving a partner available to volunteer; now two adults were out working several jobs to pay the bills. Availability for EMS duty, she said, is particularly critical during daytime hours.
LaFlure warned, however, that such a system might not be approved by the county’s full board of supervisors, because Queensbury and Glens Falls residents now pay for their own EMS services through their taxes and would likely be unwilling for their citizens to support coverage elsewhere as well.