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With EMS squads in jeopardy, Warren Co. mulls Advanced Life Support ‘fly cars’

Warren County Emergency Services Director Brian LaFlure told  concerned Thurman residents Tuesday March 12  that their medical  emergency response needs — particularly Advanced Life Support, —could be met through a county system of roving ‘fly cars’ manned with ALS-certified responders.

Warren County Emergency Services Director Brian LaFlure told concerned Thurman residents Tuesday March 12 that their medical emergency response needs — particularly Advanced Life Support, —could be met through a county system of roving ‘fly cars’ manned with ALS-certified responders. Photo by Thom Randall.

He said that a lobbying effort would be needed to make the fly-car ALS service a reality within several years.

“With support like this, I could make the system work,” he said, looking at a large fraction of the town’s voters attending the town meeting.

LaFlure warned that Thurman Emergency Medical Services, an independent, volunteer squad which experiences about 100 calls per year, could not raise the funds needed through billing for services that it needed to keep ALS-certified staff on duty to respond at any hour. He said that squads need to have a minimum of 600 calls per year to stay afloat without substantial financial support.

“I give the Thurman squad a lot of credit for their tenacity,” he said, referring to the agency’s repeated attempts to stay viable despite the town recently ceasing its annual support — traditionally ranging from $27,300 to $40,000 per year — to avoid a hefty tax increase.

LaFlure said that providing modern EMS services round-the-clock was expensive, considering the cost of wages for qualified ALS responders, noting that as a Queensbury resident, he pays $190 per year through his property taxes for EMS services. This money goes to support the local squads' operations, and this special-district tax is supplemented by revenue from patient billing and fundraisers.

Thurman Emergency Medical Services is now back in action, LaFlure and agency officials said Tuesday — it's now operational with the support of the ALS-certified Warrensburg squad.

Although the Thurman squad suspended operations as of Feb. 16, it resumed responding to calls beginning March 8 with at least one squad member on duty in its headquarters and others at home nearby, according to squad co-captain Josh Hayes.

But LaFlure warned that with the ongoing uncertainties over the ambulance squad’s staffing and viability, the county’s emergency services medical director might have to withdraw his affiliation with the squad, which would force it to cease operations. The medical director has recently sent the squad a lengthy list of stipulations it must comply with to stay operating, LaFlure said. He also said that squads without ALS certification were severely limited in their life-saving capabilities.

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