County concerned with decline in EMS volunteerism

NORWICH – Emergency Management Deputy Director Matt Beckwith painted a gloomy picture of Chenango County’s volunteer emergency medical and fire services corps this week, stating they are “rapidly dying a slow and painful death.”

With two instructors currently out on medical leave, offering certification training courses has been difficult, Beckwith said. But even when classes are scheduled, they are often canceled for lack of attendance.

“We had to cancel four fire services classes in a row a couple of weeks ago,” Beckwith told members of the Chenango County Safety & Rules Committee on Wednesday.

Retention is also a large problem. Young volunteers often leave when they begin college because the training schedule is too demanding, he said.

Committee member and 40-year volunteer with the Norwich Fire Service David C. Law said the county has “some fine volunteers who are doing a great job,” but agreed that the corps “isn’t what it used to be.”

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