Niagara County pushes for new county-wide ambulance service


WE’RE NEWS 4 AND WE’RE 4 BUFFALO.”)) NIAGARA COUNTY WANTS TO CHANGE UP ITS AMBULANCE SERVICE. COUNTY OFFICIALS SAY POOR RESPONSE TIME FROM THE CURRENT PROVIDER IS PUTTING RESIDENTS AT RISK, NEWS 4’S JENN SCHANZ SPOKE TO THE COUNTY AND THE COMPANY IT HOPES TO PARTNER WITH, MERCY EMS. JENN? JAQUIE, THIS ALL STARTED LAST SUMMER, WHEN AMERICAN MEDICAL RESPONSE, OR AMR…. PULLED OUT OF THE MAJORITY OF NIAGARA COUNTY. THAT LEFT THE TOWN OF NIAGARA FIRE DEPARTMENT WITHOUT AN AMBULANCE SERVICES. MERCY EMS STEPPED IN, AFTER TOWN OFFICIALS OBTAINED A MUNICIPLE CERTIFICATE OF NEED. NOW, EMERGENCY SERVICE OFFICIALS WANTS MERCY EMS TO HELP THE WHOLE COUNTY, WHICH IS NOW LARGELY BEING SERVICED BY TWIN CITY. ((“TWIN CITY, WHICH DOES PROVIDE SERVICE TO SOME JURISDICTIONS WITHOUT NIAGARA COUNTY HAS ASSISTED SOME AREAS, BUT NOT THE POINT OF WHAT IS NEEDED.”)) EMERGENCY SERVICES DIRECTOR FOR NIAGARA COUNTY JONATHAN SCHULTZ SAYS THE NEED COULD BE FILLED BY ANOTHER SERVICE, MERCY EMS. ((“IN THIS CIRCUMSTANCE, YOU KNOW WE’RE LOOKING TO HELP THE COUNTY AND ALL OF THE PROVIDERS THAT ARE IN NIAGARA COUNTY; FIRE AND EMS.”)) SCHULTZ GIVES CREDIT TO VOLUNTEER FIRE COMPANIES IN THE COUNTY… TRYING TO FILL THE GAP LEFT BEHIND BY AMR. THESE NUMBERS SHOW RESPONSE TIMES OVER A 4-MONTH PERIOD LAST YEAR. BLUE IS A 20 MINUTE RESPONSE, YELLOW IS 30… AND RED IS ALMOST AN HOUR. DIRECTOR OF THE MENTAL HEALTH IN NIAGARA COUNTY, LAURA KELEMEN… SAYS POOR RESPONSE TIMES ARE IMPACTING ESPECIALLY VULNERABLE PATIENTS IN A BIG WAY. FOR A MENTAL EMERGENCY CALL, WHICH KELEMEN SAYS COME EQUALLY FROM URBAN AND RURAL AREAS IN NIAGARA COUNTY, AN AMULANCE SERVICE IS CALLED. SHE SAYS RESPONSE TIMES FOR RURAL MENTAL HEALTH PATIENTS HAS BEEN SO BAD, LAW ENFORCEMENT HAS HAD TO HELP. ((“IN LATE 2016 MORE THAN 50 PERCENT OF TIME, INDIVIDUALS HAD TO BE TRANSPORTED TO THE NEAREST EMERGENCY FACILITY HANDCUFFED IN THE BACK OF A SHERIFF’S CAR.”)) MERCY EMS APPLIED TO EXPAND IT’S OPERATING TERRIROTY, UPON THE REQUEST OF THE COUNTY. THE REGIONAL BOARD WHO OVERSEES THESE THINGS, GAVE THEM THE THUMBS UP, BUT DURING A 30 DAY WAITING PERIOD, THE MOTION WAS APPEALED BY TWIN CITY AND AMR. THOSE APPEALS WILL NOW BE FORWARDED TO A LAW JUDGE IN ALBANY. DEPENDING ON HOW THEY VIEWS THE MATTER, THE ISSUE COULD THEN BE FORWARD ON TO A STATE COUNCIL, WHO NEXT MEETS IN MAY. IN A RESPONSE TO OUR STORY, AMR SAID IT’S RESPONSE TIMES IN THE CITY OF NIAGARA FALLS, WHICH THEY STILL… IT’S ONLY MUNICIPALITY UNDER THEIR SERVICE IN COUNTY. THEY SAY THERE RESPONSE THERE MEETS OR EXCEEDS

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