Montgomery County launches its new EMS division

Montgomery County launches its new EMS division

Ambulance sirens were a welcome sound for many people in Montgomery County. It meant that help is on the way, and that the county now has its own EMS division.

FULTONVILLE – In the official launch of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s EMS division, there was no time to celebrate.

“Today, currently as we speak, they’re out on a call right now and there are calls pending, so it’s proven its point on day one,” said Sgt. Justin Smith.

The creation of the division came in response to concerns about a lack of ambulances and their response time, issues affecting many communities.

“The sheriff’s office started with Basic Life Support fly cars that were actual deputies that were EMT-trained going out and handling calls while they were on patrol, just to add that stop-gap in case there was an extended period of time for an ambulance to get to somebody. From there, it grew to the county purchasing an ambulance, a used ambulance that we currently have, and then the deputies were running ambulance calls when there were no ambulances available at all, so a deputy would get in an ambulance and transport a patient to the hospital when it was needed,” said Smith. “And now today where we hired full-time paramedics and part-time EMTs and medics, and we’re staffing the ambulance seven days a week now.”

“I’ve been county executive now for 10 years. I really can’t think of anything that’s more important than having someone respond in a timely manner when you call 911,” said Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort.

“We’re working very well with Lake Valley, Amsterdam Fire Department, and St. Johnsville Ambulance who service this county and have for a while,” said Smith. “We’re just going to be a supplement to them and fill in the gaps that they can’t handle, and it’s no fault of their own. It’s just staffing issues and high call volume.”

The new EMS division has two new full-time paramedics and 16 part-time EMTs and paramedics.

Without this ambulance, basically a mobile ER, what would have happened to the calls it covered today?

“Those calls would have just waited. We would have requested mutual aid from other counties, but unfortunately other counties are in the same boat we are,” said Smith. “Like I said, it’s a national problem, it’s not just Montgomery County.”

There has been a lot of community support. The furniture and appliances in the staging area, for example, were all donated by local businesses.

The county allocated about half a million dollars for this effort.

“But I think more importantly for the long run, we have an understanding of what it takes and should we ever be in a crisis situation like some other communities have found themselves, I think we have a really good structure here to provide the service county-wide and work with the city of Amsterdam and any providers that may be available to help,” said Ossenfort.

The county is expecting a new ambulance later this month. The EMS division is operating 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week.