A community(‘s) service

Cochecton to fund ambulance corps

By LIAM MAYO
Posted 4/19/22

A community(‘s) service

Cochecton to fund ambulance corps

By LIAM MAYO

COCHECTON, NY — The Cochecton Volunteer Ambulance Corps (CVAC) has provided lifesaving service to the …

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A community(‘s) service

Cochecton to fund ambulance corps

Posted

COCHECTON, NY — The Cochecton Volunteer Ambulance Corps (CVAC) has provided lifesaving service to the community of Cochecton since 1969. On April 13, that community looked to repay that service, as the Cochecton Town Board voted to approve an ambulance district for the town.

The creation of an ambulance district allows the town to contract with CVAC to provide service for all the residents who live within the district. Cochecton’s ambulance district will encompass the entire town, covering all of the town’s residents.

The town can also levy a tax on all the properties that lie within the district to fund its contract with the CVAC.

Supervisor Gary Maas provided an example of what that tax might be at the public hearing which preceeded that meeting. If the town funded the ambulance corps with $50,000, a property worth $100,000 would be subject to a $33 tax, he said.

As things stood, the corps planned to request $35,000, lowering each property’s tax requirements.

Barring community objections in the form of a permissive referendum, the town will be able to fund its ambulance corps in its 2023 budget. That funding should get the CVAC in a good financial place, said Maas; then it wouldn’t have to worry about where its next dollar was coming from.

The health of the corps

The CVAC is facing a number of trends that make such security a relief.

Ambulance corps across the state have struggled to recruit volunteers and collect funding in recent years.

Training requirements for ambulance personnel have gone up. Years ago, CVAC primarily drove patients directly to hospitals for treatment, said Grosser and CVAC president Mike Attianese. Now, each ambulance has to have at least an emergency medical technician, a position that requires extensive certification and training.

CVAC has a full roster of EMTs, and has two young people in the EMT training program, said Attianese. Economic factors make it hard to count on trainees staying with the corps; the odds of young people staying in Sullivan County are not good, and with the economy struggling, people are more likely to pick up a second job than devote time to volunteering.

Those shifts have led more corps to consider paying their EMTs, a trend Grosser and Attianese see as likely to continue.

Funding has been an additional issue for ambulance corps across the state. New York does not consider an ambulance corps an essential service, locking them out of funding available to other first responders, such as fire departments. Ambulance corps can bypass that barrier by partnering with fire departments, but in doing so, they lose their ability to bill patients’ insurance for treatment.

The costs of CVAC have been going up, with necessities like fuel for the ambulance and increasingly expensive medical equipment. The amount CVAC takes in from billing insurance and from donations—two of its biggest sources of funding—have kept it about even, but haven’t allowed it to put any money away for the future.

With support from the town, CVAC can meet its operating expenses and start putting money away toward the purchase of a new ambulance. The older of its two ambulances was donated to the corps in 2000, and is starting to have problems.

The funding from the town will also help CVAC continue to provide the Town of Cochecton with high-quality medical service. CVAC responds to around 80 percent of calls, up from a low point some years ago, said Grosser and Attianese, and it is flush with volunteers.

[The town’s funding] "is a small price to pay for service when you can save a life in a community,” said Grosser.

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