Emergency departments across the country are experiencing a labor shortage, and with an abundance of rural areas, New York is not immune.
“I watch them struggle,” Rotterdam EMS executive director Dean Romano said. “I’m watching the cities around me, the counties all around me, their ambulance services shutting down one at a time.”
The state’s Department of Health Bureau of EMS estimates that there are approximately 9% fewer certified EMS providers in the state than there were 10 years ago.
“The amount of responsibility that rests on the shoulders of these people every day is not equivalent to the amount of money I get to pay them,” Romano said.
What do you want to know
- New York has lost about 9% of its certified EMS providers over the past 10 years
- Aging equipment and a shrinking workforce are causing many organizations to suspend services
- A new rural ambulance task force will examine how to modernize equipment while stabilizing funding across the state
But he said that, like most organizations, the Rotterdam system makes do with what it has, but its equipment is outdated.
“We’ve gotten to the point where we absolutely need to modernize and stabilize funding and some of the standards by which we operate,” he said.
Heads of state attempted to fill the gaps with additional funding, including a $1.1 million check to Romano’s team.
“What is more important than having rescue vehicles and equipment?” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said during a check presentation on Tuesday.
The state legislature also recently approved the creation of a rural ambulance task force.
“They will talk to people who work in the EMS field, who manage ambulances, determine what the challenges are and give recommendations to the legislature on how we can support them,” said MP Angelo Santabarbara.
Romano is one of the first people appointed to the task force.
“If you live in a territory that only has 9,000 inhabitants in your city, or if you live in a city like Rotterdam, where we have more than 30,000 inhabitants, there is no reason why someone should wait longer from city to city,” he said. “And I think that’s part of the job that we have to do.”