BETHLEHEM As of the beginning of the year, Bethlehem’s two volunteer ambulance agencies have become one.
Delmar EMS and Bethlehem EMS have combined into Delmar-Bethlehem EMS, following a September report from the town’s District Board of Ambulance Commis-sioners that concluded money could be saved if the two agencies joined forces. Originally, leaders of the two groups felt Jan. 1 was an unrealistic target date to complete the restructuring. But after several months of working together, many now feel the project went smoothly.
“The people involved are impressed with how the process is going today,” said Steve Kroll, the new agency’s chief operation officer. “There have been no issues and I think we are all very pleased that the members of both organizations have been able to take the best of what each does and impose it quickly.”
The District Board of Ambulance Commissioners was created under former Supervisor Sam Messina in July of 2011 to look into the rising costs of emergency medical services. The group’s report found a “great variation” exists between services provided in the southern and northern parts of the town.
To the public, the restructuring will bring little change.
The agency is keeping staffing numbers the same and the same building will continue to be used. Kroll said the town will save money by only having to pay for things like insurance and vendor contracts once, instead of twice. It is estimated the tax levy will be reduced by about $100,000 next year because of the merger.
“There have been challenges, but we’ve been extremely successful in going forward with our plans,” said Kroll. “I think we’re really starting to be looked at as a model of EMS sustainability in other communities.”
Kroll said work is being done to make sure practices and procedures are now the same throughout the agency and all volunteers are familiar with those measures. All ambulances are also being set up exactly the same so every one is equipped at the same standard.