Residents need answers from village board on EMS plans

To the Editor:

In response to last week’s Enterprise article about the Voorheesville Area Ambulance Service, I have a few thoughts.

As a past captain of VAAS, I am well aware that there have been several years of “unrest” between the Voorheesville Village Board and VAAS.

I am very sorry, for all involved, that it has come to the board not wanting to use the services of VAAS as of January 2014.

I have several questions, regarding how the village plans to supply the residents of the village with quality emergency medical services beginning in January 2014.

If they use the Voorheesville Volunteer Fire Department, how will that be legal? Who will bill the insurance companies?  Fire departments have to be separate from EMS in order for EMS to bill. It’s the law.

I understand that the Albany County Sheriff’s Office is going to place an ambulance in the Voorheesville firehouse.  Will it be there 24/7?  Right now, there are two ambulances, located three doors away from the village hall.

If the village will be contracting with the Albany County Sheriff’s Office, as a vendor, will the village expect the county to supply financial records?

How many emergency medical technicians does the fire department have at this time who have experience? Are the EMTs willing to commit to specific hours, to assure the village that it will have continuous coverage?

I have tried to read the recent village board meeting minutes but the last posted online, as of Sept. 3, is June 2013.  Where are the minutes for July and August?

Then, there is the cost.  What will be the cost to village residents? Right now, it’s an average of $6 per year, although village residents do not know this, because the EMS charge is not separated out, as it is for the town.

Off the top of my head, that’s it, although it is a shame that the VAAS has provided the village and the town with continuous coverage since 1952 and only in the past several years have we had to rely on a paid EMT, Monday through Friday, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. The rest of the time, EMS service is supplied by volunteers.

I am also aware that many village residents are unaware of what is happening. They don’t know much, if anything, about our service, except that, if they have an emergency, they call 911, and we show up.

EMS, like it or not, is a business. Whether paid or volunteer, the bills need to get paid, and the vehicles and equipment need to be replaced.

It is very important that ambulance members and village residents attend the next village board meeting to get answers.

That board meeting, as of now, is scheduled for Sept. 24 at the village hall. The village board might want to consider moving the meeting to a larger meeting hall.

Please, also, don’t take this as a criticism of the fire department. I have been an auxiliary member of the New Salem Fire Department for 42 years, and admire and appreciate what the volunteer fire departments do.

Thanks for listening.

Robin L. Goetz-Shufelt,
Past Captain VAAS

Editor’s note: See related editorial.

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