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Rotterdam medics urge prompt decision

The future of Rotterdam's emergency medical service units has been under discussion for several years now, and at the town board agenda meeting Monday, May 21, Keith Collins, director of the Rotterdam Paramedics urged board members to make a decision.

According to Collins, the paramedics need new equipment, infrastructure and vehicles.

The three-year operating license for the Rotterdam Paramedics is up on July 31, and, Collins said, work needs to be done to prepare for a new license, and if the program is going to be discontinued, work needs to be done to prepare for that.

The paramedics keep thinking, 'Who am I going to work for tomorrow,' and that's a tough spot for medical professionals. The town needs to invest in the system, Collins said.

"We are all at a point now where we have to do something," Supervisor Steven Tommasone said.

At the town board's March 14 meeting, independent consulting firm Holdsworth Pelton International, LLC submitted its findings about the current emergency medical services in Rotterdam. The report outlined five different scenarios for fixing the current system.

Currently, the town-funded paramedic unit responds first to medical emergencies then calls independently funded Rotterdam Ambulance service or REMS to transport patients.

Holdsworth's first scenario is to keep the system the same because it isn't broken, but the report states this is not a recommended option because the system is not a strong model for the future as the community ages and grows.

The second option would be to eliminate the town's paramedic service and reallocate the town's money to REMS, saving $100,000 annually. This model is not recommended because paramedic services would be contracted with the Schenectady Fire Department or Mohawk Ambulance and timely service wouldn't be guaranteed.

The third option was to merge REMS into the town paramedic unit, which would give the town full control over emergency medical services, but it is also not optimal because of personnel costs and liability issues.

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