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Brockport Ambulance officials meet with Brockport Village Board

By on September 4, 2017

Brockport  Ambulance Corps Chief Colin Arthur and President David Rice made it clear to village leaders Monday, August 28, that Brockport Ambulance will be around to serve members of the community well into the future.

Mayor Margaret Blackman asked Arthur and Rice to speak with village board members during their workshop session on August 28, after Monroe Ambulance officials raised concerns over the viability of Brockport Ambulance to members of both the village board and the Sweden Town Board earlier this month.

During the Sweden Town Board meeting August 15, Mike Bove of Monroe Ambulance told council members, “there is a public safety crisis in this community … (Monroe Ambulance) has answered 165 calls for Brockport Ambulance this year.”

Arthur and Rice presented a 13-page report to Brockport Village Board members on August 28, detailing calls responded to in 2017, total call coverage, location of calls, call statistics through July 2017, crew makeup, 2017 percentages of first-out calls covered and total calls covered, hospital destinations, and 2017 call exception statistics by month through July 31, 2017.

The figures show a clear drop in percentage of calls covered from March through May 2017. The percentage of first-out calls covered dropped from 92.3 percent in February to 74.1 percent in March, but Arthur explained the drop was due to a turnover of staff.

The situation has been improving steadily since May, Arthur said.  “We have a great group of EMT’s and paramedics now,” he noted.

First out percentage covered in July was 94 percent and Rice reported that overall coverage of calls for August has been 95.6 percent.

Brockport Ambulance has both volunteers and paid staff on its crew – 25 volunteer drivers and EMTs, 12 part-time paramedics and 15 part-time paid EMT’s.

Arthur said recent recruitment helped to turn call coverage numbers around, but he noted Brockport is similar to ambulance corps across the country facing the challenge of finding volunteers – partly because of the time needed for required training.

He noted there is a crisis in volunteerism as a whole in New York State EMS and fire departments.

Rice, who has volunteered with Brockport Ambulance and the Brockport Fire Department for 35 years, said currently volunteerism is, “the worst I’ve seen in my career.”

Mayor Blackman questioned Arthur and Rice regarding what Brockport Ambulance charges for services, compared to what Monroe Ambulance charges.

Rice said Brockport Ambulance is a not-for-profit organization which yearly reviews billing rates. He said Brockport Ambulance charges are in the “mid-range” compared to other area ambulance services.

Both Rice and Arthur said Brockport Ambulance is making sufficient funds to continue to operate and provide quality services, but not much beyond that.

“We provide a quality and cost effective service to the community,”  Rice said.  “That hasn’t changed.  It’s something we feel very strongly about.”

Rice explained that as a community ambulance service, Brockport Ambulance provides standby services to local events such as the Brockport Arts Festival at no charge.  He said Brockport Ambulance also makes a good faith effort to collect on all bills, but does not send bills to collection agencies in hardship cases.

Arthur told Mayor Blackman that Brockport Ambulance provides some services to residents at no charge, such as blood pressure checks and assisting people who have fallen in their homes.

When asked what their biggest worries are, Arthur and Rice told trustees the age of the ambulance fleet and the re-occurring threat of village government dissolution are at the top of the list.

Arthur said Brockport Ambulance is reaching out to State Senator Robert Ortt to secure grant funding which would help with the purchase of a new ambulance.  He noted equipment in the Brockport Ambulance fleet is “on par” with that of Monroe Ambulance and that “Our paramedics and EMT’s are trained the same as Monroe Ambulance.”

Arthur and Rice agreed to continue to keep the lines of communication open with the Village Board. Arthur meets monthly with the mayor and attends two village board meetings each year. “If something were to change, you would know,” he told Mayor Blackman.

“It’s a business,” Rice said. “But it’s a labor of love as well.”

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