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Town of Colonie finalizes LifeGuard contract

After nearly eight months, the final element being negotiated in the contract between the Town of Colonie and New York State Police for the Emergency Medical Services LifeGuard Air Rescue Program, was passed at the Thursday, March 12, Town Board meeting.

The EMS LifeGuard Air Rescue Program is a program that joins EMS personnel and State Police on helicopter rescue missions.

The resolution called for a modification of the contract, which now allows EMS personnel to fly in the co-pilot seat in the front of the aircraft and serve as a lookout.

Originally, according to Town Attorney Michael Magguilli, the town did not want EMS personnel sitting in the front of the aircraft because of liability to the town in the event of an accident. Under the new contract, State Police would assume full liability should an accident occur.

Thursday's vote marks the end of a lengthy dispute between the town and LifeGuard proponents that began July 10 when EMS personnel crowded the back of the room at a regular Town Board meeting, holding yellow fliers that urged town officials to reverse a decision by Supervisor Paula Mahan to not renew a contract between the town and state police to continue the program.

The program, which began in 1993, is made up of more than a dozen participants and flies an average of 100 missions per year.

Originally, the supervisor sought to not continue the contract for several reasons, one of which was that the flights took town EMS personnel away from their coverage area, where the supervisor said they are meant to be available.

Another reason the supervisor wanted to end the contract was the liability issue should something go wrong.

During the July meeting, EMS Responder Mary Pat Provost read aloud from the handout many of the EMS personnel attending the meeting were holding.

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