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Mountaintop officials seek greater EMS resources

Hunter Town Supervisor Daryl Legg addresses Greene County legislators Wednesday about improving emergency services on the mountaintop. Legg requested the current paramedic fly car be moved from Windham to Hunter or Lexington and the county purchase an additional fly for the region.
February 8, 2019 10:04 pm

Columbia-Greene Media

CATSKILL — Mountaintop officials addressed Greene County legislators Wednesday to improve emergency response services in their community.

Hunter Town Supervisor Daryl Legg, Hunter councilman Dolph Semenza, Lexington Town Supervisor John Berger and Windham Town Supervisor Bob Pelham spoke on behalf of the mountaintop regarding issues with the area’s paramedic fly car, which is stationed in Windham.

Officials appealed to legislators for two solutions: Relocate the fly car to Hunter and station an additional vehicle in Lexington.

The Windham fly car is stationed near Route 23, which makes it convenient to respond to accidents in the valley, but the spot is not ideal for serving the greater mountaintop community, Legg said.

“For the guy having a stroke in West Kill, you might as well call the coroner,” he said. “Catskill opted out of the fly car, so now the fly car comes down from the mountaintop. How is that fair?”

Windham also has Advanced Life Support, so the fly car, in effect, duplicates the services, Legg added.

Legg, Semenza, Berger and Pelham previously made their case to the county’s Emergency Medical Services Board, Legg said, and were told the mountaintop did not have a high enough call volume to relocate the car and have an additional vehicle.

Hunter had 565 emergency calls last year, Semenza said, estimating that Hunter ranks third in the county for the number of calls behind Catskill and Coxsackie.

“They should be saying, ‘How can we help you facilitate medical emergencies with your people?’” Legg said. “If there are five people that need help, they are just as valuable as anyone else. People up there are just as valuable as people down here.”

The EMS board voted on the proposal for an additional mountaintop fly car last fall. The measure was defeated by one vote.

“Well, they need to reconsider,” said Harry Lennon, D-Cairo.

Hunter had an incident Wednesday that was a prime example of why the fly car should be moved, Semenza said.

“We had a fall in Lanesville where a man caught his foot in a log splitter,” he said. “He had to wait 40 minutes for an ambulance in massive pain. When help arrived, they weren’t certified to administer pain medication. He was transported to Kingston so it was probably about an hour and half before he got any relief.”

The EMS board said the officials’ request for a new fly car is cost prohibitive, Legg said.

“At the same meeting, we were told they [EMS] had $1.5 million in their coffers,” he added.

The initial fly car cost about $300,000, said Legislature Chairman Patrick Linger, R-New Baltimore.

“And that cost [of buying another] would come back to us,” Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden said.

“Sometimes it costs a little money to do the right thing,” Legg replied.

Several members of the EMS board shot down the officials’ request to move the fly car to Lexington or Hunter, Legg said.

“They said it [Lexington] was a bad spot and the fly car was not there as a transporting agency,” he explained. “But if there’s a 40-minute arrival time, they can be prepping him [the patient] for the ride.”

Garages to house the fly car are already available in both towns, Semenza argued.

“Nothing needs to be built,” he said.

Legislators spoke in favor of relocating the emergency vehicle.

“They’re duplicating services for ALS,” Lennon said. “To me that’s the issue.

“They have a valid argument,” he added.

The relocation would not be difficult compared to purchasing a second fly car, said Patricia Handel, R-Durham.

“Relocating the fly car doesn’t seem like that big of an issue to me,” she said.

Berger also voiced his support.

“We need to move the car to where its needed,” he said.

Linger asked if any mountaintop fire officials are trained in first aid response, as they could stabilize a patient waiting for an ambulance.

Prattsville’s department is, Berger replied.

“But the members work during the day,” the Lexington town supervisor said.

Legg noted Hunter’s fire departments are on the decline.

“We are an aging community with less volunteers,” he said. “We are looking at combining the fire departments in Hunter into one district.”

Linger requested Coxsackie Village Mayor Mark Evans present the county’s emergency call volume data at a future meeting. Legislators plan to reconvene on the topic after they obtain the figures.