OPINION

LETTER TO THE EDITOR Local Emergency Medical Services in crisis

Letter to the Editor

Question: What happens when there is a two-car motor vehicle accident on Pre-Emption Road in Benton and Bellona Fire Dept., Benton Fire Dept. and Medic 55 respond, but the Penn Yan Area Volunteer Ambulance Corps cannot muster a full crew? Answer: Mutual aid is called from Finger Lakes and Stanley-Hall-Gorham Ambulances. I am not placing blame or pointing fingers at any person, rather revealing the crisis that is Emergency Medical Services today.

Gone are the days of staffed shifts all day long at PYAVAC. Times have changed, and the demographics in our community have changed. A large number of the individuals who we relied on, as a community, to cover those many shifts have retired; many having served for decades as volunteers since PYAVAC was formed in 1972. Those serving today exist in smaller numbers, while call volumes and training requirements have increased significantly.

In addition to today's issue, many ambulance agencies have been challenged to consistently answer calls while their active volunteer ranks dwindle. EMS in Yates County is in trouble. Both PYAVAC and Middlesex Ambulance have to use paid staff to cover some shifts, when there is paid staff available. Dundee Emergency Squad also often responds to cover calls in neighboring communities. Yates County is not immune to the national EMS crisis.

No single individual or agency is at fault, but the system is slowly failing and the volunteer EMS leaders along with local politicians need to become more concerned about rapidly solving the problem. Response times are rising, mutual aid requests are increasing, and the whole system is on life support. 

I am calling on all local elected officials, Mayors, the County Legislature, Village and Town Board members, and the EMS agency leaders to recognize the EMS crisis and take action to fix it. This must be a collaborative, multi-agency effort led by a coalition of stakeholders and local governments. The time is now. There can be no further delay.

Clancy is a 27-year member and Past Chief of the Penn Yan Fire Department, former EMT with PYAVAC (board member) former member SAVAC of Oswego, and former AEMTCC with Medic 55.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Letter writers are responsible for making sure the information they submit is accurate and factual. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Letter writers are responsible for making sure the information they submit is accurate and factual.