by: Jack Watson
WEBSTER, N.Y. (WROC) — It’s a change which could impact roughly 35,000 people.
Starting next year, residents living in the West Webster Fire District are slated to see some changes to ambulance services.
In recent days, residents began receiving flyers in the mail alerting them to the change: ambulance transit will be provided by Penfield Volunteer Emergency Ambulance, which will keep response vehicles at the Gravel Road West Webster fire station.
“There are a number of factors that led to us looking at this to begin with,” said Al Sienkewicz with the West Webster Fire District.
Starting January 1, when a patient needs emergency transit, if they have insurance, they’ll pay the copay. If not, they will pay for the cost of the ambulance call itself, Sienkewicz explained.
At a public meeting in July, the district presented two options: Try to increase paid EMT staff, or contract calls to another service. That service, the district announced, is Penfield Volunteer Emergency Ambulance.
For decades, the West Webster Fire District ran a Basic Life Support (BLS) service, covered by fire taxes. Now, when a resident needs a BLS call, they will pay the copay or pay for the call itself, depending on insurance.
“From a financial standpoint, the Town of Webster will no longer have to provide a subsidy for ALS [Advanced Life Support] being run, and our residents will no longer have to pay that ALS fee because obviously the fire department won’t be running the ambulance anymore,” said Sienkewicz.
Webster Town Supervisor Tom Flaherty wants Webster Emergency Services to respond. “The Town Board will probably be making a decision by next Thursday,” he says.
Flaherty says the town can pick who they want. “The town has a certificate of need that empowers us to contract with any EMS agency we want to cover the whole town,” he says.
Sienkewicz says if you need an ambulance, don’t hesitate: call for one. With the increasing demand for calls and decreasing staff, the district said something had to give.
“That pager goes off eight to nine times a day, and it’s just getting to the point where a change had to be made, that we could no longer support that,” Sienkewicz added.
Members of the fire department would still be sent on serious calls. Paramedics will respond directly on the ambulance instead of responding in a separate vehicle, the district said. The fire district said this model keeps them on par with almost every other EMS agency in Monroe County.
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Ambulance transport in West Webster Fire District to be contracted to outside service – RochesterFirst