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N.Y. ambulance service applies to fill vacancy in county after AMR’s departure

Skaneateles Ambulance Volunteer Emergency Services applied to expand into Cayuga County in 2024


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By David Wilcox
The Citizen, Auburn, N.Y.

CAYUGA COUNTY, N.Y. — The ambulance service in Skaneateles is eyeing an expansion into Cayuga County as a result of American Medical Response’s plans to exit the area at the end of the year.

Skaneateles Ambulance Volunteer Emergency Services has applied for a certificate of need to provide service to the towns of Owasco and Sennett, said Stephen Knapp, its executive director.

Knapp told The Citizen on Friday that SAVES has asked for the support of fire departments in the area as it goes through the application process with the Central New York Regional Emergency Medical Services Council. Upon the council’s approval, the application would proceed to the state. Knapp said he hopes to obtain the certificate of need by mid-January.

SAVES already covers the parts of the two Cayuga County towns in the Skaneateles School District. The Owasco Fire Department currently provides basic life support service, and parts of Sennett are covered by Old Erie Emergency Services in Jordan and the Throop Fire Department. If granted the certificate, SAVES would be able to strengthen that coverage throughout the towns, Knapp said.

“We need to bolster and support them so they can still do their job,” he said. “It’s difficult in a rural area where they’re trying to survive and a large commercial service exits.”

AMR announced last month it would close its two-rig Auburn station due to rising equipment and workforce costs, sending local EMS providers scrambling to cover the service’s 3,000 calls a year. Knapp said he expects SAVES to get called into the area more often for mutual aid when other providers are occupied, so proactively expanding “gives us more control over our destiny.”

SAVES, which operates in partnership with Marcellus Ambulance Volunteer Emergency Services, has two rigs. Stationing one of them in Sennett is a possibility, Knapp said. Meanwhile, he’s on “a hiring binge” to prepare for the expansion. While the partnership between SAVES and MAVES allows him to move staff between the two providers as needed, staffing is still a challenge.

“The career people have to fill in where the volunteers can’t,” he said. “The ultimate goal is everyone working together to make sure this system works and people receive the health care they need.”

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