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New Scotland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, March 8, 2012
“Volunteerism ain’t what it used to be”
Voorheesville rescue squad wants to hire pros
VOORHEESVILLE The Voorheesville Area Ambulance squad asked the village board last month to help fund professional daytime drivers and emergency medical technicians.
A small committee of volunteers from the Voorheesville Area Ambulance squad met with the village board last month to ask for financial support to pay for daytime coverage that would include professional EMTs and drivers, or both.
“I don't know what the future entails,” Ray Ginter, of the ambulance squad, told The Enterprise this week. “We don't have the manpower. Volunteerism ain’t what it used to be. People don’t have the volunteer attitude they used to.”
Ginter said that residents asked to volunteer are more likely to hand over a $20 bill than join the squad.
“Daytime is our biggest downfall,” he said. Young people with jobs and families leave daytime ambulance coverage sparse, he said.
The squad proposed to hire multiple professionals to cover several part-time shifts, Ginter said, at an estimated $60,000 per year beginning in January 2013. The ambulance squad approached the town and the village in February as the village prepares its budget in March, he said. The Voorheesville Area Ambulance squad serves the village and the town of New Scotland.
“The EMTs we have are volunteers,” Ginter said. “Now, we have seven active EMTs. Three are retired that tells you what our age group is.”
The squad hopes to hire “multi-taskable” EMT drivers who generally work for other agencies and can devote 24-hour shifts to Voorheesville, he said.
Ginter said that the trend to have professional daytime coverage is moving up the mountain. “Altamont, Guilderland, and Delmar all do it,” he said.
The squad averages between 350 and 400 calls per year, or about one call per day. Volunteers waiting at home for an emergency call may be stuck there if the ambulance is not needed, but volunteers on a different day could receive two or three calls one after the other, he said.
“It’s hit or miss,” he said. If the alarm sounds, volunteers need to be free to go, he added.
The squad proposed to the village to use revenue-recovery funds, where insurance companies are billed for patient transport, to pay for the professional help. The squad and the village wrangled last year over how the newly enacted revenue-recovery system would be reported and paid out.
The village now receives statements from the squad monthly, and pays out funds to the squad according to the budget, currently about $53,000 per year. The town of New Scotland also budgets funds to reimburse the squad.
Village board members said last week that using the revenue-recovery funds to pay for a driver or EMT would “be a wash” and leave the village short that same amount.
“In reality, it’s going to need to come from the taxpayers,” Ginter told The Enterprise when asked if the numbers canceled out. He said that, over the years, the New Scotland tax revenue recovery amount has been lowered. Ginter said that the amount in the town budget’s line item could be raised to its previous amount.
At $2 per household, he said, the taxes would go back to pre-revenue-recovery levels and the squad would have professional daytime coverage.
“We’re not sure what the town or the village want to do,” he said.
While it waits for budget decisions, the squad is trying to recruit more volunteers with its new website, www.help911now.com. The site has information on how to volunteer with Voorheesville, and links to other agencies, Ginter said.
By Jo E. Prout
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