ROTTERDAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Executive Director of Rotterdam EMS fears the squad is nearing financial collapse. The longstanding issue of a lack of town funding, he said, is coming to a head.

“The aging population in the Town of Rotterdam really needs to have EMS available 24/7, and it needs to be here, local, in-town, close by,” said Dean Romano of Rotterdam EMS.

Romano explained that, in 2013, the then-town board in Rotterdam decided to defund the paramedic program, eliminating it from the police department. This left Rotterdam without paramedics. Rotterdam EMS picked up the job, he said, but no funding followed.

Now, he’s trying to figure out how to run the service, because grants eventually run out, and the fee-for-service model he was following is no longer sustainable.

“With the workforce crisis that’s going on, and the pay rates have gone up, funding has not followed suit,” Romano said.

According to Romano, officials with the Town are nervous about the impact on the community if the EMS were to be funded through taxes. The Town Supervisor’s office did not return NEWS10’s request for comment.

Schenectady Fire Chief Don Mareno told NEWS10 his department often engages in mutual aid with Rotterdam EMS that is crucial in what he considers a strained system.

“With all the changes in healthcare, we’re finding we’re doing more medical calls, and we require the ambulance more often,” Mareno said in a phone interview.

Mohawk Ambulance, paid on a fee-for-service basis, feels it can take on the work if Rotterdam EMS ceases operations. A spokesperson for the company sent the following statement to NEWS10:

“Mohawk Ambulance is ready, willing and able to handle the Town of Rotterdam’s 4,000 emergency calls should Rotterdam EMS cease its operations. Throughout the year, we’ve been responding to calls in Rotterdam as a backup to REMS and, despite not being the primary EMS response agency, our response times are consistent with industry averages. Mohawk responds to over 70,000 calls annually, and we can certainly handle an additional 4,000 calls each year. Also, we’ve adjusted our EMS provider training programs and recruitment efforts to alleviate staffing concerns that are plaguing other ambulance agencies. We are actually on the verge of being overstaffed, which is a unique problem to have in the EMS industry at this time. Mohawk has agreements with many municipalities in the region, all of which are in place without taxing residents and charging patients for the same service. As the largest EMS agency in the area, we are experienced in stepping in and handling all calls and transports for a city, town or village.”

Mohawk Ambulance

While Romano feels Mohawk provides a good service, he is pushing for Rotterdam EMS to stay intact.

“EMS, providing 9-1-1 response in the town of Rotterdam, really needs to be a separate and a small organization, like our organization,” Romano said.