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Colonie EMS program on the rocks

In response, Toscino said, "I see as many people as I can catch up on."

Ferraro was one of many victims who stood before the Colonie Town Board to urge Supervisor Paula Mahan and the board to reconsider the termination of the EMS Lifeguard Air Rescue Program.

More than 20 EMS respondents attended the July 24 meeting holding yellow signs that read, "The Town Board will save lives by saving the flight medic program."

The program, which involves trained EMS respondents traveling on air rescue missions with state police, has been operating for 15 years under the supervision of EMS Chief Jon Politis.

According to United Public Service Employees Union President Gary Favro, political attacks on Politis are what jeopardize the program's continuation.

"It's personal; it's not business at all," he said.

The program's contract with the town ends Sept. 1. The supervisor has decided not to enter into a new contract to continue it at this point, but, Favro said, there is time for the administration to change its mind.

A public hearing on the EMS Lifeguard Air Rescue Program is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 14, at 7:05 p.m. at Memorial Town Hall.

According to Favro, program participants were requesting that the board delay the Sept. 1 conclusion date because it is too close to the date of the public hearing. He said an extension would allow board members and the supervisor time to make a well-informed decision.

The July 24 meeting was adjourned, however, without the conclusion date being suspended.

After hearing reports that state police have since begun to receive offers from other companies for a flight rescue program, Favro said that no other program is as well-qualified as Colonie's.

"They've got 15 years of experience -- they know the system, they know the pilots," said Favro. "I don't think the average flight medic knows how to do what they do."

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