The New York State Emergency Medical Services Council’s “2023 EMS Agenda for Future,” released last month, inspected challenges involved in supplying EMS delivery by creating topic-specific subgroups to study agencies, education, government, support, operations, hospitals and staffing.
The Center for Public Safety Management’s recent “EMS Services Delivery Report” did the same by analyzing data from the computer-aided dispatch system at Otsego County’ Emergency 911 center. Among the many challenges examined by these studies, the two main issues identified—which are not isolated to New York State—are the existing systems of funding and changing communities.
I have been following the movements of the Board of Representatives and the 911 director over the last two years in regard to the county’s paid EMS program that the constituents of Otsego County never approved. After reading last week’s article on AllOtsego.com, I have many thoughts to share and questions to be answered.
The Board of Representatives, including prior members, has never aggressively helped fire/EMS volunteerism in Otsego County. They have never offered county-wide incentives that made a substantial difference in volunteers’ lives. To that point, I have watched regulations get jammed down volunteers’ throats while telling them they need to pay for their own courses, they need certain certifications which they must also pay for, they must have certain levels of expertise—all without any form of incentive or financial assistance to do so.
ONEONTA — Joshua Beams, the new Otsego County administrator, met with Rep. Jill Basile, D-Oneonta, on Friday, Oct. 8, to reassure her constituents “there will be no fiscal impact for Oneonta” with regards to the new EMS plans for the county.
Beams stressed Oneonta, which has its own community-funded EMS, will not be double charged for the county’s supplemental ambulance service, which is direly needed in rural areas of Otsego.
According to Beams, the EMS service would be an “opt-in only program.” The county will still service Oneonta through mutual aid, but city and/or town residents won’t be taxed for the service if they chose to opt out.
“There will be no fiscal impact for Oneonta,” Beams assured Basile.
Joshua Beams, a 2005 SUNY Oneonta graduate, was appointed as Otsego County administrator, effective Oct. 4, at a special meeting of the county’s Board of Representatives Tuesday, Sept. 7.
The position was originally approved in December 2019, but the hiring was delayed a year because of a 2020 hiring freeze at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
The position was discussed in county government circles for decades, as Otsego County is governed by a group of 14 legislators and has no executive branch of government. The county’s Inter-governmental Affairs Committee studied governmental forms and executive roles for a year before approving the change in 2019.
The League of Women Voters of the Cooperstown Area joins the New York State Volunteer Ambulance and Rescue Association, Inc. in supporting state legislation that would create a task force to study the unique problems facing ambulance services in rural areas of New York State and to propose long-term solutions for them.
The League believes that every resident should have access to a basic level of quality healthcare, including acute care, of which ambulance services are an essential component.
We also support allocating additional medical resources to underserved areas, and New York State rural residents are chronically underserved.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only made the importance of rural emergency medical services more evident, and the need to address their pre-existing challenges more pressing.
The hardworking volunteers and paid emergency medical technicians are local heroes in our rural communities, and their dedication and commitment have a direct impact on health outcomes and quality of life. Establishing a task force that systematically identifies service gaps and makes recommendations on how to sustainably support this critical component of rural healthcare is a much-needed first step.
State Sen. Hinchey and Assembly Member Santabarbara are sponsoring the bills in their legislative chambers, and we call on our local representatives — Sen. Oberacker and Assembly Members Salka, Miller, Tague, and Angelino—to support the bill’s swift passage before the legislative session comes to a close at the end of June.
Liane Hirabayashi and Patricia MacLeish
Co-presidents, League of Women Voters of the Cooperstown Area
OTEGO – Oneonta EMS, Otsego County 911 and Cooperstown Medical Transport are among the emergency-service agencies set to participate in an active-shooter drill at Unatego High School on Saturday, Jan. 23.
The drill, which will run 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., will help train emergency service providers on how to handle an active shooter scenario. It will be conducted by members of the state police, Wells Bridge Fire Department, Otego Fire Department, Unadilla Fire Department, Life Net, Otsego County Emergency Management, Franklin Fire Department and Sidney EMS.