NEW BERLIN – Taking an initiative to address the ambulance shortage in the area, one local fire district will be purchasing the equipment needed to provide emergency services to its residents.
In a press release sent out Tuesday, New Berlin Mayor Carol Riley explains the history as well as the recent concerns for emergency services. Riley said New Berlin’s ambulance started in 1955 with one vehicle at the village fire department. Until 1971, that volunteer unit provided residents in New Berlin and its surronding area with emergency coverage. By 1977, two ambulances had been purchased and the Pittsfield Township left the district and the service remained steady until 1999.
Due to a shortage of manpower, Riley said, and concerns of taxpayers, funding for one ambulance was eliminated and the other one was turned into a first response unit. “From that time until now, they have operated as a First Response EMS Unit of the New Berlin Fire Department, with Gray’s Ambulance and more recently Superior Ambulance providing patient transports,” said Riley.
Riley explains now the issue facing the fire district, as has been widely addressed locally and regionally, is the departure of Superior Ambulance Service from Chenango County, leaving first response units such as New Berlin, Pharsalia, McDonough and Bainbridge without a transporting agency. “It became a problem and we had to figure out a plan to rectify it,” said Riley.
Riley said “although Cooperstown Medical Transport (CMT) has now come into the area, they have met with our local fire district representatives and will not contract for primary transporting service. The fire district has used South New Berlin, Sherburne, Edmeston, Pittsfield and Norwich Fire Department’s ambulance units and members for transport since Superior left, but that cannot continue.”
Several meetings have been held between the fire district representatives, including Riley, Fire Commissioner Wade Schrag, Supervisor Ross Iannello, and Supervisor George Coates, Columbus Town Board member Kevin Winton, New Berlin Fire Chief George W. Hanslmaier and New Berlin EMS Captain Susan Burke, to deal with the issue. “After several meetings with local, county and state fire and EMS officials and, as noted above, CMT, a decision was made Jan. 10 to acquire a municipal Certificate of Need (CON), a new ambulance and again provide for a full EMS transporting service,” said Riley.
Riley says an oversight committee has formed an agreement between the Village of New Berlin and the townships of Columbus and New Berlin for this project. “They have reviewed the public need, kept in mind the taxpayers involved, understand the volunteer commitment needed and feel this is the best solution to provide EMS to the fire district at this time,” she said...