Proposed state task force to help rural EMS agencies in need

New York News

ROTTERDAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Lawmakers are proposing a bill which will create a task force to help improve rural ambulance services that are struggling to stay afloat.

During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, paramedics like Amy Tino have been called “health heroes,” but Tino said they’re in need of help too. 

“We’ve definitely used a lot more resources when it comes to PPE,” Tino said.

The pandemic highlighted problems rural agencies already face. That tacked on with a new problem of needing the costly necessity of PPE.  

“It’s always a funding issue no matter where you go,” Tino said.  

A proposed bill could swoop in and save the day. The taskforce lawmakers are looking to create would identifying problems rural EMS agencies are having so the state government could better help.  

“With this bill we won’t have to be concerned about resources, we don’t have to be concerned about maintenance on giving the best care that we can,” Tino said.  

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, who’s sponsoring a version of the bill along with Senator Michelle Hinchey, said more than 20 rural EMS agencies across the state have shutdown in recent years.

Santabarbara said rural families are left to wonder how long it will take for an ambulance meet them.  

“It’s important that we do things to stabilize. That’s what this bill is about,” Santabarbara said.  

While the task force will work to identify problems, Tino’s boss, Dean Romano, said the problems are clear to him. It comes down to two things: funding and staffing.  

“If we don’t fix the funding streams, we’re never going to fix the staffing streams and so the cycle continues,” Romano said.  

Being an employee of one EMS agency which has closed, Tino hopes the issues can be fixed so the past doesn’t repeat itself.  

“The fact that a job that is there with security, with funding, is probably the most important thing when it comes to us as employees, knowing that we’re going to have a job to come to,” Tino said. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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