Ambulance shortage solution unveiled

CHENANGO COUNTY – Local leaders were presented with a possible long-term solution to an expected ambulance shortage Tuesday that would involve the county funding an emergency service for the first time.

County fire officials and town supervisors asked the county to take up the issue in September after Superior Ambulance – a Binghamton-based private service that handles around 2,000 emergency calls per year in several area townships – announced it would no longer be operating in Chenango County after Oct. 25.

The pull-out was precluded by the company cutting its ambulance numbers by two-thirds in January, citing a lack of profitable business. Since then, area emergency service squads, particularly the City of Norwich, are being stretched to meet the influx of added calls, city and county leaders say.

The solution to the shortage, presented County Fire Coordinator Matt Beckwith to the full Board of Supervisors at its monthly meeting Tuesday, calls for the county to implement a “fly car” system.

Here’s how the system looks as presented:

• The county would employ three full-time, Advanced Life Support certified paramedics to help staff outlying volunteer ambulance squads.

• The paramedics would drive a car to 911 calls or meet volunteers on route to the hospital from two posts, most likely in the southern and northern halves of the county.

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