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EMS issue takes over Colonie Town Board meeting

Almost 40 men and women dressed in navy blue, sporting the letters \EMS crowded the back of a Colonie Town Board meeting to urge Supervisor Paula Mahan and the board to reverse a decision to terminate the EMS Lifeguard Rescue Program.

The program, composed of more than a dozen participants, involves EMS respondents traveling with New York State Troopers in helicopters during rescue missions on the ocassion that they are needed by the troopers. When not in flight, the respondents respond to calls primarily in Colonie.

According to councilman Brian Hogan, who had said that he first learned about the program being terminated via a memo that was sent on July 8, all board members were not fully informed of the decision to terminate the program.

Supervisor Mahan, addressing the board and public, had said the decision to terminate the program was the result of consideration of several factors including the safety of the flights, whether the Colonie EMS respondents were focusing on responding to residents in Colonie and the costs of the program.

"We don't understand what's going on here," said Gary Favro, union coordinator for the Colonie EMS group. During Favro's remarks, he blamed the decision to terminate the program on "personal misinformation that is being directed toward the administration."

As public comments began to cease, Councilwoman Nicole Criscione-Szesnat introduced legislation that would require decisions regarding all programs to require a public hearing. Board members became confused about the resolution Criscione-Szesnat had introduced during the meeting, the board took a five minute recess to discuss the issue. One concern about the resolution was that the word "program" is too broad of a term.

The meeting resumed with a vote on the same resolution Criscione-Szesnat had originally introduced, to which the resolution was passed. But immediately following the passing of the resolution which would call for a public hearing on all program-related issues, Councilman William Carl made a motion to introduce a resolution to rescind Criscione-Szesnat's prior resolution. The rescinding resolution was voted on, and passed, making Criscione-Szesnat's resolution null and void.

Councilman Hogan then introduced legislation to hold a public hearing on Thursday, July 24 about the EMS Lifeguard Rescue Program, specifically, on the premise that a new contract with the State could be signed to continue the program.

For more on this story, check back at www.spotlightnews.com, or read the July 16 print edition of the Colonie Spotlight.

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