March 12, 2008: Volunteers needed

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To The Editor:

When a person pays attention to the Fire/EMS (Emergency Medical Service) issues in Delaware County they have to notice that it is increasingly difficult to get responders out for calls. Local EMS is suffering from the same problems as the fire service. It is interesting to note that the local fire departments of the towns of Middletown and Hardenburgh, mentioned in my previous letter, do not supply EMS services. It is also important to note that there is no requirement that fire departments provide EMS services.
Margaretville Memorial Hospital (MMH) serves our fire districts with emergency medical protection. While all other departments charge themselves with supplying EMS service to their district residents, MMH serves our residents. During normal working hours, MMH mans their ambulances with full-timers who have taken the time to certify themselves to serve as EMT’s (Emergency Medical Technicians). After hours, “on-call” ambulance squad members respond to emergencies. Increasingly when an EMS call goes out after hours, the same daytime responders turn out for the calls because there are not enough members to serve the hours.
In times of uncertainty regarding the future of Margaretville Memorial Hospital and the services provided to the community it is certain to make residents consider the ramifications should the hospital close its doors. Would or could the local fire departments be able to supply EMS services? Would we have to depend on paid ambulance services such as Cooperstown Medical Transport? Fortunately, partnerships with the Kingston area hospitals have given our hospital stability for the time being. Services are being expanded on a regular basis making using MMH more attractive.
All too often, MMH responders are called to neighboring districts to offer a level of care above what is available on the local ambulance. Once the MMH ambulance leaves the district there is a void for local responses. Though there are multiple ambulances at MMH, there is a need for more squad members to man them in the event of simultaneous call-outs.
EMT training is not for the faint-of-heart and requires a major commitment in time but there is a need for volunteers to take the classes and become certified. Any residents interested in serving the ambulance squad should contact Pat Delameter at MMH 586-2631for information on training.

Mike Porter, president
Margaretville Fire Dept.