At Thursday’s Montgomery Town Board meeting, the board made a motion to pay the Town of Montgomery Ambulance Corps’ (TOMVAC) unpaid bills and waived their rent for the second half of 2019 and all of 2020.
The board will pay $40,468.89 worth of bills that are past due. The waived rent for the second half of 2019 will save the TOMVAC a total of $3,600 while waiving the 2020 rent will save them $7,200.
This came following years of the TOMVAC being underfunded. For much of the 2020 preliminary budget, there was no funding for the TOMVAC. This brought frustration to the community and there needed to be a change.
“We can’t have a community that feels secure and safe and not have an ambulance service,” said former Walden Village Trustee Mary Ellen Matise at a budget hearing back in November.
The town board responded by allocating $100,000 in the 2020 budget for the ambulance corps. After the new town board was sworn in, Supervisor Brian Maher began to assemble an ambulance corps task force to determine how to spend the money in the budget and how to improve the TOMVAC. The task force currently includes Supervisor Brian Maher and Councilwoman Sheryl Melick as well as members of the TOMVAC.
“This really comes down to an issue of funding on a variety of levels,” Maher said. “Part of it is the market in terms of the industry and how it is that we can get qualified individuals interested in earning maybe not a great wage but providing the services for ambulance corps that we need to have provided. The lack of interested individuals and availability for that industry is definitely hurting ambulance corps not just here in the Town of Montgomery but all over the state of New York.”
Maher added that a lot of the state’s volunteer ambulance corps are shifting to paid employees because they cannot get enough people to volunteer.
One of the major concerns for the TOMVAC is that they do not have the funding to provide advanced life support care. This is care that requires medical monitoring and care by a licensed EMT or paramedic and may include monitoring vital signs, advanced drug therapy, cardiac monitoring, oxygen and IV therapy.
“Down the road that was an objective, but of course money is an issue,” said Eric Shorette, Captain of the TOMVAC.
Currently, Mobile Life Support Services Inc. responds to calls from the Town of Montgomery in the event that advanced life support care is needed. Maher noted that this is less than ideal because they are in such high demand. Shorette added that Mobile Life is often far away and cannot arrive at the scene in a timely manner. Maher concluded that the task force will continue to improve the TOMVAC.
“We are on this issue. We are taking a really hard look at it. We know it’s not going to be done overnight,” he said. “The Town of Montgomery Ambulance Corps and the group that we’re putting together are working together in good faith.”