NORWICH – Chenango County Office of Emergency Services will officially kick off its EMS program on Monday, May 16, by providing two Basic Life Support (BLS) providers in South Otselic.
“It’s been a long road,” stated Fire Coordinator Matthew Beckwith. “For nearly four years, we have discussed many options for increasing our EMS services in Chenango County, and now on Monday, we will have our first BLS crews staffing an ambulance in South Otselic."
In 2021, the Board of Supervisors approved the beginning of a county-operated EMS service to supplement the local agencies and provide additional resources after AMR decreased their presence in Chenango County. The Office of Emergency Services was authorized by the Board of Supervisors to apply for the Certificate of Need (CON) with the NYS Department of Health.
In late 2021 the CON was applied for and was received a few months later in early 2022. Throughout the process supplies and equipment have been ordered, and personnel were interviewed and have now been hired.
In cooperation with the Chenango County Personnel Department, the Office of Emergency Services completed a three-day orientation process for all of the new employees who will be working in the ambulances and fly cars.
On Friday, members of the Office of Emergency Services received a delivery of two new 2022 Chevrolet Tahoes that will serve as Advanced Life Support (ALS) fly cars.
“These vehicles will be equipped with ALS equipment to help supplement the current providers and our two BLS Ambulances. One will be staged in the northern portion of the county, a second will be staged in the southern area, and a third will be manned by our EMS Coordinator James Dean in the central portion of the county. These ALS equipped vehicles will assist all agencies operating in Chenango County with advanced lifesaving equipment and supplies,” said Beckwith. "We still are waiting on our heart monitors.”
“We ordered them in November of 2021, and due to COVID they are on backorder,” said EMS Coordinator James Dean.
“We are excited for this to begin. It’s been a lot of work, but we have received overwhelming support and cooperation from the Board of Supervisors and the Chenango County Treasurers Office for this to begin,” stated Beckwith.
According to EMS Coordinator James Dean, we are finishing up one EMT basic class with another once scheduled to begin in a couple weeks.
“Last year we had to postpone our class due to low enrollment, but this class filled up, forcing us to limit the number of students," he said. If the student numbers continue to justify another class, the Office of Emergency Services will run another class late in the fall.
“It’s been years since we’ve had enough students to run three EMT classes in one year. This is encouraging,” said Beckwith.
The Afton Board of Fire Commissioners just signed their contract with the county for an additional crew to be placed in Afton 12 hours a day, five days a week. As part of the agreement, the county agrees to lease their ambulance(s) (Afton and South Otselic) and provide two BLS providers and various supplies and fuel to cover EMS calls throughout the area.
“Our next step is to get crews in Afton,” said Dean.
“These are two vast areas of our county that lack for EMS coverage due to low manpower," Beckwith stated. “We aren’t taking anyone over, we just want to provide a solution to a nationwide problem – a shortage in EMS."
“We have been sending neighboring ambulances outside their districts to cover calls. This leaves their districts without coverage. Our goal is to help limit the delayed response times and help keep local providers within their own districts as much as we can, and provide every agency with ALS if and when they need it."
-Information provided by the Chenango County Office of Emergency Services