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Air rescue program continues to stir emotions

During the hearing, residents and EMS responders shared their concerns about the cancellation of the program. Of those concerns, several EMS responders said that the skills flight medics who fly on the rescue missions are required to have are invaluable to the Colonie EMS department and that it is those skills that have helped build the department's reputation.

In addition, United Public Service Employees Union labor relations representative Gary Favro has said that the program does generate revenue by billing patients picked up by flight medics, and while it is a liability, liability is a part of many duties of the men and women who volunteer and work for the EMS department.

Another aspect of heavy debate concerning the topic is the numbers that are being considered, both of costs to maintain the program and revenue. As part of the conditions of the program extension granted at the Aug. 14 public hearing, an outside audit will be completed and a survey will be sent to residents asking how they feel about their tax dollars being used to keep the program running.

Wasielewski said he thinks it is an issue of concern to the state because it involves state police, and, therefore, the audit should be completed by New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

"I'd like to see the real numbers. I think this is clearly a case for the state comptroller to be involved in," he said.

For Reilly, the best thing he said he can do for now, is give his advice.

"I think the appropriate thing to do is to do a consideration," Reilly said. "To study it now, and in the course of setting next year's budget, determine whether that's something the town wants to provide.""

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