Town of Thurman board members (left to right) Evelyn Wood, leon Galusha and Rebecca Hitchcock examine documents during a board meeting Dec. 13,when they voted to negotiate a contract with the Thurman Emergency Medical Services. The town and the board have been battling for a year over response rates, contracts, and funding.
As officials of both the town and the local emergency squad are now predicting they’ll be striking an agreement within days over a providing ambulance services, Thurman EMS president Jean Coulard said her squad is on the verge of obtaining Advanced Life Support certification.
Monday, she said her squad now has prepared a duty roster with 24-hour coverage with ALS technicians, and would likely receive such legal endorsement for providing ALS services by Jan. 23.
It’s a good thing.
Monday Dec. 17, Warrensburg EMS Board President Bob Farrell said his squad would not be responding to ALS calls in Thurman after Jan. 1 when his squad’s contract with the town expires.
His statement followed criticism of the board’s recent proposal to pay $200 per call to whatever area agency responds first, which Farrell said was “a bogus idea.”
Town Supervisor Evelyn Wood responded she was disturbed that the Warrensburg squad would declare they’d intentionally refuse to care for patients in town.
The angry exchange of words followed Farrell’s advice to the town board at their monthly meeting to grant adequate funding for emergency medical services.
The Warrensburg Squad was seeking $50,000 annually from the town of Thurman to cover its 100-odd calls, while it receives only $30,000 from its hometown to subsidize about 1,000 calls. Warrensburg squad officials cite the prevailing lack of health insurance coverage among Thurman residents as justification why they need such a premium from Thurman for emergency services.
Following the meeting, Wood hinted that the town board was giving serious consideration to the Thurman squad’s request for $40,000, an amount that Coulard said her agency could live with — but an amount that Farrell predicted would put patients at risk.
The remainder of money needed to assure proper ALS staffing and equipment, Coulard said, could likely be raised from donations, noting that a woman with professional fundraising experience had just joined the squad.
“We’re going to do our darndest,” Coulard said about raising money to keep the squad appropriately funded.
Moments earlier, the board voted to sign a letter of intent to contract with the Thurman squad, as long as there was some financial guarantee in place that local taxpayers would get their money back if the squad folded. Also, Wood said she agreed in concept to providing fuel for the squad’s ambulances at cost.
Thurman’s ALS certification was revoked in late 2010 amid financial and staffing difficulties under different squad administration.
In other business, the board voted to allow snowmobile traffic for four months this winter over River Road and Bowen Hill Road to George’s Knoll so a sled trail connecting the western Adirondacks with points east and north would remain open. The move was prompted by a ban on snowmobile traffic over the Warren County railroad right-of-way, as train traffic has resumed on the tracks.
Board members said they were hesitant to do so, however, because of a sharp curve in Bowen Hill and narrow roadways, but that maintaining a legal snowmobile pathway was important to the region’s economy and recreation.
While the snowmobilers at the meeting said they were pleased with the decision, resident Joyce Eddy, a former snowmobile club official, said the board’s decision was “a terrible mistake,” as she cited various vehicle collisions on a curve in the roadway.
“This board has voted for an accident to happen to innocent people,” she said.