volunteers

ALBANY COUNTY — Although millions of dollars are spent every year by taxpayers through their fire districts in the western half of Albany County, just hundreds of the tens-of-thousands of the eligible voters turned out for the commissioner elections on Tuesday.

As Western Turnpike Rescue Squad closes its doors, its operations taken over by the town of Guilderland, the Altamont Rescue Squad looks to the future.

The fire company is hoping that $11,000 set aside for building costs can be used to to cover costs for a newly required insurance program.

With each passing year, fewer and fewer all-volunteer ambulance squads remain in the area, replaced with full-time paid employees.

A statewide insurance program for certain firefighters afflicted with cancer has been touted for helping at-risk volunteers, but there is concern in small fire departments that the costs outweigh the benefits.

As for independent services within the town of Guilderland, Western Turnpike has become a fully paid service and Altamont Rescue has “a few volunteers,” the town's medical director said.

A special Rensselaerville Town Board meeting to discuss the closure of the town’s volunteer ambulance was met with a solemn acknowledgement of the end of the 45-year-old organization.

Betty Filkins, of Westerlo, was recently recognized as a New York State Woman of Distinction.

Dan Dymes felt helpless in the wee hours of Wednesday morning as his Agway delivery truck was stuck in the snow and he watched the Prospect Terrace fire next door getting closer. In the end, he was grateful, although his truck was damaged and his mulch pallets unsellable, that no one was hurt.

With 10 to 12 members, many retired and in their 60s, Rensselaerville Volunteer Ambulance announced that it would be closing, with the Albany County Sheriff’s Emergency Medical Services unit taking over calls in town.

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