LAKE GEORGE - Ambulances in the town of Thurman may soon begin to roll soon again.
The local government is poised to sign a contract with the local emergency squad, town Supervisor Evelyn Wood said Friday. The pending agreement, if formally adopted, ends a year-long squabble between the town board and the squad.
Through Wednesday, the town had not contracted for emergency response services with the Thurman Emergency Medical Services, citing their inability to provide Advanced Life Support services, shifting service costs, sporadic low response rate, uncertain finances, and a lack of cooperation from EMS officials.
The Thurman squad has not responded to calls since Jan. 1 because of the lack of town board support - Warrensburg EMS has been handling calls voluntarily.
Friday, Wood said she and board member Leon Galusha had met Thursday with EMS squad president Jim DeSourdy, and they had worked out a deal for his agency to again be the contracted response squad for the town.
The deal, subject to formal endorsement Monday by the town board, calls for Thurman EMS to provide Basic Life Support, with the understanding an ambulance transporting a patient in critical condition will pick up an Advanced Life Support technician from the Warrensburg squad along the route to the hospital. Such an arrangement was routine for years until the squad had its ALS certification revoked last year due to manpower shortage.
The new pending contract calls for a six-month trial period to see if the arrangement works out, Wood said. The contract is for a sum of $50,000, payable in quarters, with the first sum to be paid in February.
The contract bears a performance guarantee to resolve lingering concerns of the board, Wood said. The contract calls for the squad to respond to 80 percent of its Basic Life Support calls in order for the contract to extend beyond its trial period, she said.
"The probationary period will make sure everything works out for both parties," Wood said. "In agreeing to this contract, we've let bygones be bygones."
The Thurman emergency squad is to meet Sunday night to vote on whether to ratify the proposed deal, she said.
"I'm very optimistic at this point," Wood said. "Since I ran for office, I wanted to keep EMS services local all along. The board just wanted to make sure people are protected with adequate medical services, while we stay within the budget and keep it affordable for the taxpayers."
Joyce Eddy said she and hundreds of other
Thurman residents will be happy if the contract is indeed endorsed. She noted that a petition signed by 222 Thurman residents was recently submitted to the town board calling for the local squad to provide services. Many townspeople have worried about the extra time required - as much as 15 or 20 minutes -for Warrensburg squad members to respond to calls, she said, particularly in the remote areas of Thurman.
Eddy knows about how vital quick response is.
Her great-grandson Dakota Beadnell was buried alive about two years ago when a sandbank collapsed near his home. Eddy credited not only the family dog for alerting the family members and pawing at the site he was buried, but she also said the Thurman squad's quick response saved the boy's life.
"Dakota's alive today because of the services they provided, after getting there so quickly," she said.
She added that a lot of Thurman residents are elderly and don't drive, and they are susceptible to various medical crises.
"Without quick response and transportation to the hospital, the elderly might just lay there and die," she said.