NEW BERLIN – In January 2007, the emergency medical services (EMS) of Chenango County were dealt a serious blow with the announcement that Superior Ambulance was pulling out of the area.
Left with a void of advanced life-support service, volunteer crews and local governments came together and created the paid ambulance service of New Berlin. The efforts of the Village and Town of New Berlin and the Town of Columbus along with the contributions of volunteer firefighters and paid staff makes possible today’s 24-hour, seven day a week ambulance service.
New Berlin Fire Chief Shawn Patrick said the New Berlin Fire Department, like many others in the area, has traditionally provided volunteer EMS services since the 1950s. However with trends now leading local departments to paid staff, that is no longer the case.
“According to state law, a volunteer fire department can only run a volunteer ambulance service. Once you start paying the members, they have to be separated from the department and made into a separate organization,” he said.
Volunteer fire service members still aid the EMS service by driving the EMS vehicles and in providing support any way they can however, Patrick explained.
The New Berlin Fire Department’s history dates back to 1955 when Wesley Aylesworth, Herb Butts, Harry Prentice and Merritt Lloyd started the all-volunteer emergency squad. The EMS service was in place until 1999 when the department changed to the New Berlin First Response EMS unit, primarily due to a shortage of manpower.