CHENANGO COUNTY – Chenango County Emergency Medical Service (EMS) providers are struggling to fill gaps in their coverage, and are warning that depending on call volume certain areas could wait up to an hour for an ambulance.
According to Chenango County Fire Bureau Coordinator Matthew Beckwith, local EMS providers have been discussing an issue with service coverage for about a year and a half, but officials are still working on a solution.
“We knew there were issues with coverage, and the system that we had in place had AMR with two ambulances in Norwich, Norwich was providing a service, and Sherburne was a paid service,” said Beckwith. “Then New Berlin ended up cutting back to about 18 hours a day.”
“AMR also changed their staffing requirements around September 9, and notified us that they weren’t going to be posting in Norwich as often as they were before.”
Beckwith said approximately 15 years ago Chenango County was flush with EMS providers, but slowly as volunteerism died down communities started to drop their ambulance services, relying on other municipalities with successful programs.
He said eventually paid providers moved in to fill the void, but now that many of those paid providers have left the area some communities rely solely on mutual aid, or help from other municipalities' services for medical coverage.