Almost 40 men and women dressed in navy blue, sporting the letters EMS crowded the Colonie Town Board meeting Thursday, July 10, to urge Supervisor Paula Mahan and the board to reverse a decision to terminate the EMS Lifeguard Rescue Program.
The program, which began in 1993, is composed of more than a dozen participants, and involves EMS respondents traveling with New York State Troopers in helicopters during rescue missions when needed. 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 in a memo that was sent on Tuesday, July 8, all board members were not fully informed of the decision.
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 did take into account just the facts " this is nothing personal," said Mahan.
Mahan emphasized that if there are fewer EMS respondents in the air working with the flight program, more will be available to work on the ground "helping the people of Colonie."
EMS Chief Jon Politis said, "The town supervisor notified us that she was bringing the program to an end on Monday. I'm sad that the program is coming to an end, but I'm very proud of our people and the job that they've done over the years, and I think it's been a very great program and generated money for the town."
One of the supervisor's arguments for the termination of the program is that it is costing the town more money then it is bringing in. But according to Politis, the program brings in about $150,000 per year.