NY lawmakers, EMS officials announce bill to establish rural ambulance task force
The task force would examine the challenges facing rural ambulance services and make recommendations for improvement
By Laura French
ROTTERDAM, N.Y. — New York lawmakers and EMS officials have announced a new proposed bill that would establish a rural ambulance task force in the state.
State legislators unveiled the bill at Rotterdam EMS headquarters on Wednesday, saying the unique challenges of rural EMS agencies must be examined and addressed, according to WAMC. Speakers at the announcement event noted that rural agencies have been facing declining revenue and volunteer staff levels since before the pandemic.
"An alarming number of these lifesaving services have closed their doors in recent years and we can't risk losing more," Assemblymember Angelo Santabarbara said in a statement Monday morning. "That's why Senator Michelle Hinchey and I will be joined by Rotterdam EMS today to call for the passage of our bill to establish a New York State Rural Ambulance Task Force. It's absolutely critical that we seek out innovative solutions to support this rural health care need."
Rotterdam EMS Executive Director Dean Romano said his agency is among those that have struggled with both funding and staffing shortages. The agency functions on a fee-for-service model and does not receive any municipal funding. Romano said the agency brings in barely enough revenue to cover costs and that fundraising events only make up for a very small portion of the budget.
Additionally, the agency has brought on more paid staff due to a lack of volunteers, adding further costs. Romano said it costs more to have a combination paid and volunteer agency than all paid due to insurance issues.
The proposed New York State Rural Ambulance Task Force would study the issues impacting rural ambulance services and make recommendations to address their problems and challenges. Santabarbara and Hinchey say they hope their legislation will pass before the end of the current legislative session in June.
WATCH LIVE: At Rotterdam EMS in Schenectady for an announcement on the future of our rural EMS in New York State.￼Posted by Senator Michelle Hinchey on Wednesday, May 19, 2021