In a 7 to 0 vote, the Colonie Town Board approved the re-entry of a contract with the New York State Police to continue the EMS LifeGuard Air Rescue program.
The program, which allows Colonie EMS to go on flight-rescue missions with state police, became a controversial issue in the town this past summer when Supervisor Paula Mahan decided not to enter into a new contract for the program for several reasons including what she believed to be the necessity of the program and the town's liability associated with it.
After an over two-hour public hearing on the topic in August, where several Colonie EMS respondents and rescued victims spoke out in favor of the program, the Town Board opted to extend the program until December 31 so that they could take a closer look at the program before deciding whether to enter into a new contract.
Part of the time was to be used on the completion of an audit of the program, which United Public Service Employees Union Labor Relations Representative Gary Favro, who has defended the program, pledged to pay for.
According to Favro, he was never taken up on his offer as the Town had decided to complete an audit of the EMS Department as a whole, and to his knowledge, the specific portion of that audit that applies to the LifeGuard Air Rescue has not yet been completed.
With or without the audit, the town has begun taking measures to keep the program alive, so long as state police also agree to enter into a new contract. There are, however, some stipulations of the contract, including having the flight medics only go out on missions deemed emergency and not for them to travel further than 100 miles on a mission.
While Town Attorney Michael Magguilli argued that the 100-mile rule was a part of the original contract between the town and state police, Favro argued that there are many locations the flight medics travel to when on a mission that exceed 100 miles-one of which being the nearest burn center in Westchester, NY, which Favro estimates to be about 125 miles away.
For more on this story, check back at www.spotlightnews.com, or read the Wednesday, Dec. 24 print edition of the Colonie Spotlight.