To the Adirondack Journal:
In regards to the Feb. 1 article in the Post-Star about Thurman EMS — It’s disheartening that so much unsubstantiated information could be printed as news, without the necessary fact-checking which should accompany such accusations.
The Thurman EMS did not “shut its doors” leaving a situation that would “endanger someone’s life.”
In fact, the very day this article was published, Thurman EMS responded to a call that night with a volunteer EMT and driver.
A vote had been taken to close the squad in the near future due to financial difficulties, and the squad was waiting until after the Town Board meeting Feb. 12, hoping for a miracle. A volunteer EMT is still stationed at the building to take calls.
The article states Jean Coulard said the squad’s “few remaining members” voted to shut the doors and stop responding to calls. Note that we have the same number of members — the only people we lost were several paid EMTs who left after we could no longer afford their payroll expenses.
For Evelyn Wood to say that she was caught off guard when asked about the lack of coverage, I must say that she was definitely aware of the situation — it was discussed at several town meetings. Thurman EMS has been trying to negotiate with her for months. She offered the squad only enough money to cover the final ambulance payment to the town, and that she did only because of how the contract was written. Net operating funds allocated for Thurman EMS in 2012 was zero. She has never tried to “get them into negotiations”. There was never any discussion about alternatives.
At one town meeting, I asked what would happen when someone called 911 if Thurman EMS closed down. I asked if we would be the first town in Warren County without an ambulance service. I asked if she had a contingency plan for this. I told her I couldn’t fathom a town without an ambulance. Check the board minutes, which are available on the Internet.
Thurman EMS has sent letters to all residents describing their financial predicament and requesting donations. There have been numerous articles posted in the Adirondack Journal. Any resident should be aware of what is going on in their own town. This is not news to Supervisor Wood.
The Post-Star article also states that Thurman EMS could not keep up with the call volume in 2011, requiring Warrensburg to cover the town. But in 2012, the squad hired paid EMTs to do exactly what she asked, provide coverage for the town, 24/7, and the call response was 98%. This fact was presented to Wood during several town meetings. The squad did what she asked, expecting some type of town support to follow, but she still denied funding.
Thurman EMS is dedicated to the residents, and has struggled financially to provide service. I have personally met people whose lives were saved by Thurman EMS.
No matter what solution is decided upon, it’s not going to be for free. If a private company is hired they will not “soft bill” as Thurman EMS does. The residents will be paying full price for their ambulance transport. Even if another agency covers Thurman, they can’t afford to do it for free. No one can. Somehow, money will be needed to cover the town’s emergency needs. Evelyn Wood sponsored a resolution to raise taxes, and taxes were raised by a little more than 5 percent, but still nothing for the squad.
So, let’s hear from the residents. What do YOU want? It’s time you made that heard. Call your Town Board, call Amy Drexel, call Evelyn Wood, and call our Congressman.
Let’s make sure we get the timely response that’s critical when we call 911. Every minute counts when someone is waiting for help in a medical emergency.
Last year a paid EMT who chose to serve regardless of receiving no pay, told Thurman EMS members he was donating his time and talents “because these are our friends and neighbors.” This really affected me, and I volunteered to serve as Treasurer.
Thurman EMS is a dedicated, hard working group that has struggled to the end to serve the public.
I know we have the support of the residents, and I cannot comprehend the official town’s lack of support. Without it, Thurman EMS has reached the end.
We are hoping for a miracle on Feb. 12 — some level and source of funding that will allow Thurman EMS to keep operating. If not, dissolution papers will be filled out and Thurman EMS will cease to exist.
There are many rumors circulating regarding the squad. I encourage you to conduct your own fact-finding. I will show you our financial records if you have questions. Feel free to call squad officials and ask with any questions you may have — and then you will obtain an accurate picture of what has happened and not rely on false print.
Treasurer, Thurman EMS