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Days are numbered for Rotterdam EMS
ROTTERDAM -- "Nobody makes money on anybody's bad day here. We simply cover our expenses to continue our operation," says Dean Romano, with the Rotterdam EMS.
After 77 years, Rotterdam EMS may be no more, and 47 EMS workers will be out of a job. That's because come Monday, their contract is up and the town has decided to take it's business elsewhere.
"You're going to take 7 emergency vehicles out of the program. Seven emergency vehicles that are currently actively responding in the town and in the county," Romano says.
Board members of REMS say by hiring Mohawk Ambulance to cover the town, its putting those who live there at risk. That's because they cover the greater Capital Region, not specifically the town of Rotterdam. They also say by having fewer ambulances in the fleet it will stretch already thin emergency resources.
But the town says they weren't filling shifts.
"Mohawk is a bigger outfit, they could provide 30 ambulances plus if we needed them," says Deputy Supervisor Wayne Calder.
"We're having trouble filling shifts right now with our own people," he adds.
The town of Rotterdam is saying that the Rotterdam EMS was taking too long to respond to emergency calls, taking almost 20 minutes or longer. However according to their records in 2013 their average response time was 5 minutes and 14 seconds, well below the national standard of having 90% of calls at 9 minutes or less.
"We can't see any good reason for it, other communities are paying their ambulance services to stay in business we're offering basic and advanced life support for the town of Rotterdam at absolutely no charge," says John Dybas, president of the Board of Directors.
"Contracting with REMS Rotterdam Ambulance saves all the town resources, saves the town their EMS budget, and saves all of the jobs, no one will lose their job, because we will absorb the entire staff of the Rotterdam police paramedics," Romano adds.
EMS workers are less than baffled as to the reason why they may be shut down. They claim political agendas are at the forefront of the decision to have a contract with Mohawk Ambulance. That's because the deputy supervisor's son in law, happens to work there.
"He's got family that works for Mohawk Ambulance and I completely understand that he would want the best for his family, however his job is to take care of the town and not his family," Romano says.
"I would just ask the town administration and the police department to be honest. To be honest with the residents about what really is going on," Stan Wilgocki, a REMS employee says.
"It's now or never. We've been here before but this is it. We have to tell the town and the town board that you want to keep your local ambulance services, because if it goes away it's gone forever," Dybas adds.
We reached out to Mohawk Ambulance for comment, here's what they had to say:
"Mohawk Ambulance Service is fully committed to serving the Town of Rotterdam. We answer 50,000 calls annually throughout the Capital Region, and have answered over 1,000 calls in Rotterdam over the past few years when another provider was not available. Our more than 200 employees will bring a tremendous level of professionalism to the people of Rotterdam. Mohawk Ambulance is committed to the Rotterdam community and our business has always been based here in Schenectady County. Our equipment is state-of-the-art, with the most sophisticated life-saving equipment in the industry, including full GPS tracking and dispatching."