ROTTERDAM, N.Y. – The Rotterdam Town Board heard proposals from EMS providers Thursday to become the primary emergency response team in the town, but board members said it will ultimately come down to quality of service.
Thursday night's presentations by Mohawk Ambulance & Rotterdam Emergency Medical Services drew a packed crowd and high emotions. At times, board members got a little hostile towards one another.
The board room was hot and packed out into the hallway. The meeting lasted nearly five hours and was attended by people eager to hear what EMS could look like in Rotterdam in 2014.
"I think we learned a lot of information tonight," Rotterdam Town Board supervisor Harry Buffardi said. "I certainly heard some things that are going to help me make up my mind as to how I'm going to vote."
REMS, whose been the primary EMS provider since the early 2000's, said its 44 employees will provide four ambulances dedicated to the town. REMS added it will fully staff two ambulances 24 hours a day all year long.
"I think we present a very good opportunity for the town of Rotterdam," REMS board member Dean Romano said. "To provide great EMS services for its citizens as it has for the last 77 years."
Mohawk touted its 33 ambulances, 250 employees, and committed to supply two fully staffed ambulances in Rotterdam all year during its presentation.
"We feel we delivered a very good proposal to provide the people of Rotterdam with the best possible service," Mohawk Vice President of Operations Rich Brandt said. "We feel they deserve that, and we stand by it."
Another difference between the two companies is the rates they charge for services.
REMS claimed to be able to save patients $250 per call based on patients' savings over the last contract period.
In years past, the town had to partially fund REMS for operations, but REMS said that has changed.
"We reinvented ourselves as an organization so we could pay off our debt and become sustainable," Romano said.
REMS said they will likely have to lay-off all 44 full- and part-time workers if Mohawk is chosen.
"Rotterdam EMS will not be able to survive if they do not have the call volume that is in the town of Rotterdam," Romano continued.
Two controversial issues were discussed during the meeting.
The first was whether or not REMS has the certification to operate on its own. Included in REMS bid proposal were copies of the certificates from the State of New York authorizing REMS to be able to fully perform the duties of an EMS provider in Rotterdam for both basic life support and advanced life support services.
The second was whether or not REMS owed the town money from when Rotterdam supplied paramedics capable of providing ALS services to REMS when the company was not certified to do so. Romano said they have never been given a bill by the Town of Rotterdam stating how much they owe, but he did say REMS will honor any credible costs that the town incurred while it provided paramedics with ALS services to REMS.
Whoever wins the bid will serve the town for the next five years.
The town board will meet December 11 to vote on which EMS provider they want to hire.
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