N.Y. Ambulance Squad to Separate from Fire Department

News Nov 08, 2017

Nov. 08—CAPE VINCENT—The Cape Vincent Ambulance Squad will soon separate from the fire department and become its own entity, a decision made last year to help recruit more members.

Existing squad foreman Rodger R. Dowling II said the new Cape Vincent Ambulance Squad Inc. will be able to recruit anyone who is at least 18 and lives in the state part-time, meaning it can recruit seasonal residents and people who live in nearby towns. The fire department, which became the Cape Vincent Joint Fire District earlier this year, can only recruit full-time town residents.

Mr. Dowling, who will soon serve as president of the new organization, said he expects the Regional Emergency Medical Services Council to approve the transition and receive a final sign off from the state Department of Health by the end of the year. Fire Chief Tom H. Martilotta said an approval could be made by the end of the month at the earliest and January at the latest.

“As a whole, it’s going to be a very rough year,” Mr. Dowling said. “We need to get people not only recruited here, but we need to get them certified and trained.”

The new Cape Vincent Ambulance Squad Inc. would also be able to hire emergency medical technicians and charge for transports to nearby hospitals.

Mr. Dowling said the ambulance squad has looked into potentially hiring paid staff in the future depending on available funds, but would not charge for transports “unless our existence was threatened.”

Without billing for its services, the squad would receive funds through a contract with the town and fundraising. Mr. Martilotta said the fire district has set aside a one-time payment for the squad. “The town will be contracted with this new ambulance entity to provide its services to our residents,” said Town Supervisor Debra J. Suller, adding that the contract will only cover a portion of the ambulance squad’s budget. “In this day and age, they’ll need to get some money in order to survive.”

The ambulance squad has struggled to gain more volunteer emergency medical technicians for years.

The Town Council in 2015 considered paying Thousand Islands Emergency Rescue Service to provide staff and help remedy the issue. The board instead decided to plan having an emergency medical technician certification course that would have been taught by an instructor from Jefferson County Emergency Medical Services.

Mr. Dowling, however, said not enough people signed up to hold the course.

“(The squad has) been hanging on by a thread for years as a volunteer agency with the few volunteers they have,” Mr. Martilotta said.

The ambulance squad have already begun recruiting efforts for the new organization.

Mr. Dowling said the squad has hosted eight CPR training sessions to recruit more members and plan to continue their promotional efforts by hosting blood pressure clinics and assisting other community organizations. He said the new organization is expected to have an initial membership of 16 volunteers.

“It is growing, and we are hoping to recruit more people,” he said.

While it will become a new organization, the ambulance squad will continue to cover the entire town, including the village and islands within its borders, and operate out of the fire hall, 241 Broadway St. Anyone interested in volunteering for Cape Vincent Ambulance Squad Inc. can contact Mr. Dowling at 315-777-2039 or Melissa Rookman at 315-527-9378.

Watertown Daily Times, N.Y.