ROTTERDAM: Of sirens and safety

Discussions about the fate of emergency medical services in Rotterdam have been ongoing since at least 2003 when Supervisor Joseph Signore commissioned a consultant to study emergency medical services in the town. According to operations manager for Rotterdam EMS Jim Stairs, that consultant said hiring a private company, such as Mohawk Ambulance, to provide emergency services in the town should be considered.

In the last six months, consulting firm Holdsworth Pelton International completed a new study, which did not recommend privatizing emergency services and instead recommended merging the town-managed paramedics with the privately owned Rotterdam Ambulance service.

Bombardier said the Holdsworth study is flawed.

"If you look at the list of people interviewed, not one was from a commercial provider," Bombardier said.

Stairs said he is frustrated with Mohawk Ambulance for many reasons.

"My frustration is that Mohawk Ambulance can't seem to accept 'no' as an answer," he said.

Stairs said the community has already expressed its opposition to using a commercial company for ambulance services and so has the town.

Stairs also said Mohawk Ambulance can't point to anywhere in the Capital District where they do what they want to do in Rotterdam.

Stairs agrees with the Holdsworth study that the town-managed paramedics should merge with Rotterdam EMS.

Currently, when a person dials 9-1-1, a Rotterdam paramedic is dispatched from the police station and an ambulance is dispatched from Rotterdam EMS with two emergency medical technicians. By merging the two, it would cut down on vehicle trips and unnecessary people.

Rotterdam Supervisor Steven Tommasone said he also opposes using Mohawk Ambulance for emergency medical services within the town.

"The community has spoken resoundingly that they want to keep our own EMS intact," Tommasone said. "The structure behind that is something that we will be talking about."

Tommasone said he is waiting until the town's budget is completed before making a final decision.

"When it comes to EMS services in our town, we have phenomenal professionals and paramedics and volunteers. It's a service that we have to keep," he said.

Bombardier said he only hopes Tommasone will consider Mohawk Ambulance as an option.

"We would only hope the supervisor would see the sense both fiscally and from an emergency car perspective," he said. ""

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