Ambulance service reverses decision

GLOVERSVILLE – The Ambulance Service of Fulton County has changed its decision to stop responding to lift-assistance and non-injury calls.

The ambulance service sent a letter to the city in early May saying it no longer would respond to the calls, but Board of Directors President Tobin Cash said this week the service has rescinded the letter.

“The order to not respond to certain calls was rescinded last week,” he said Monday. “The ambulance service is restructuring and sometimes you make a false step. The Ambulance Service of Fulton County is responding to all calls in Gloversville, including non-emergency.”

Cash said the ambulance service changed its decision after hearing complaints from the city council. He did not elaborate.

Cash said the ambulance service has been making internal changes. He said those changes won’t effect the service to city residents.

He said previous manager Howard Hime retired earlier this year after nearly 50 years of service. Timothy Delaney took over as interim manager.

“We are restructuring after the retirement of [the service’s] longtime manager,” Cash said. “After 50 years under one manager, any business would consider examining its operations.”

The previous letter to the city signed by Delaney said if firefighters, after arriving to a scene, found it “medically necessary to respond,” they could dispatch the ambulance service to the location along with the nature of the call.

After the city received the letter, the Fire Department began to temporarily pick up that responsibility of answering lift-assistance and non-injury calls.

City officials said they were exploring who is legally responsible for that duty.

City officials expressed concerns about the sudden change during a Common Council meeting last Tuesday.

“After the council expressed concerns and said they were going to have problems, we realized we had to rethink [the decision],” Cash said. “With budgetary constraints, unpaid services have to be considered in future planning.”

He said the ambulance service has about 25 people on staff and it may hire more in the summer when more calls usually occur.

Fire Chief Beth Whitman-Putnam said the number of lift-assistance and non-injury calls is low, but the change was a concern for her department because it was unclear who was responsible.

The chief said she now has received a new letter rescinding the previous letter.

Mayor Dayton King said he is pleased the ambulance service changed the decision.

“I’m certainly happy they reconsidered and will be providing that service,” King said. “It takes pressure off the city and the firefighters. I think we can be prepared and open-minded if they decide to not do this in the future, and it’s something we need to be aware of, but for right now, I don’t think we need to do something different other than be on standby in case they need it.”

Levi Pascher can be reached at lpascher@leaderherald.com.