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E. Rochester utilizes Rural/Metro services
East Rochester, N.Y. Its a move being made by many ambulance services throughout the country.
Volunteer ambulance services are deciding to hire paid, full-time staff or to merge with for-profit ambulance companies. The East Rochester Volunteer Ambulance Corps recently made a similar decision.
They were faced with the same challenges most ambulance services are facing today, said Martin DAmbrose, the East Rochester Village Administrator. They had a dwindling membership base and the cost of providing service was something that was becoming difficult to manage.
In June, the ERVAC merged with Rural/Metro. Twelve of the 22 volunteer members will become paid, full-time staff members.
DAmbrose said in addition to the decline in volunteers, the ERVAC was not able to sustain itself just off of the money from billing patients alone because the call volume in East Rochester is relatively low.
Most volunteer ambulance services do not operate their services with taxpayer money.
LaShay Harris, a Rural/Metro spokesperson, explained that the merger could result in a higher level of care of East Rochester residents.
The town will get an increase in service meaning the level of service is 24-hour paramedic coverage and advance life support coverage, Harris said. Prior to the agreement we only had EMTs working here and now the town has paramedics and EMTs working here.
Chris Murtaugh, a spokesperson with Henrietta Volunteer Ambulance, says that generally, paid ambulance services are able to respond to calls faster.
[With just volunteers] we had to call people from home and we had to wait, he explained. The delay, it would be five to six minutes before they are on the road whereas now we have paid staff that is ready to respond any moment.
In 1999, Henrietta Volunteer Ambulance saw the writing on the wall whey they hired their first paid staff member. The population of the town was growing, but the number of volunteers was shrinking.
The trend overall in EMS is less towards volunteer and more toward a paid model, Murtaugh said. Volunteerism in general is declining in the U.S. as people are busier and living busier lives and people are working more.
Henrietta was able operate independently with a combination of volunteer and paid staff member. East Rochester, however, decided it needed help from an outside agency like Rural/Metro.
Former ERVAC members will still wear their East Rochester uniform and drive an East Rochester ambulance.
Town and village officials hope this merger means better service for residents.
I think our coverage now is maintained at 100 percent, DAmbrose explained. You're going to see ambulances all the time. People are going to respond very quickly and in a lot of cases youre going to see the same people wearing the same uniforms as before.