Town of Newburgh EMS to offer Advanced Life Support

By Alberto Gilman
Posted 2/20/24

The Town of Newburgh Emergency Medical Services (TONEMS) will be transitioning from a Basic Life Support (BLS) agency into an Advanced Life Support (ALS) agency. A statement from TONEMS released by …

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Town of Newburgh EMS to offer Advanced Life Support


The Town of Newburgh Emergency Medical Services (TONEMS) will be transitioning from a Basic Life Support (BLS) agency into an Advanced Life Support (ALS) agency. A statement from TONEMS released by Executive Director Chris Napolitano explained what will be happening and thanked the community for their continued support.

“This transition signifies our commitment to delivering the highest standard of care to the residents of the Town of Newburgh along with the surrounding communities that we provide mutual aid to during medical emergencies. With the implementation of Advanced Life Support, our highly trained paramedics will now have expanded capabilities to administer a broader range of medical interventions, improving our capacity to respond to complex medical situations more effectively,” stated Napolitano. “The upgrade to ALS comes as a result of our ongoing dedication to the well-being of our community and our continuous efforts to enhance the level of emergency medical service that TONEMS already provides. We believe that this transition will further strengthen our ability to meet the evolving needs of our residents and contribute to the overall health and safety of our community.”

The statement was also posted to Facebook and has received positive feedback.“Everybody’s really excited,” said Napolitano. “We’ve got a lot of comments from the community also, which is super, very supportive. Some of our town leaders, our town supervisor, Gil (Piaquadio) has been really excited for this move. Everybody’s really pumped.”

In April, Napolitano will celebrate six years with TONEMS. In his time starting out at the agency, he recalled that the hopeful transition to an ALS agency was coming. “Everyone’s always asking me well, okay, you’re here, you’ve built the program, when are you going ALS and I said, “Well, when it’s the right time,” he said. “We built our BLS program, we’re currently answering over 4000 calls a year. When I first took over, it was almost half of that.”

With this decision, Napolitano recognizes that there is a growing need for more ALS units within the area. The COVID-19 pandemic affected agencies leading to volunteer decline, the rising number of residents 65 and older have mostly been ALS calls and serving other communities who may not have available ALS services factored into the decision. “There’s a need, we create a solution and that’s what we’re doing, we’re taking that next step,” said Napolitano.

The transition process to an ALS agency has been in the works for some time. According to Napolitano, for typical ALS units, devices known as a lifepaks used during emergency calls can be used as automated external defibrillators (AED), an electrocardiogram (EKG) helps in reading oxygen levels and blood pressure levels and so on. For the past few years, TONEMS has been using these lifepak devices during their calls and all of the members are trained on how to put a 12-lead device on a patient, which helps in live EKG readings to the hospital as the ambulance is en route. However, Napolitano clarified that the lifepaks are set to the BLS mode to remain within compliance and due to members not being paramedics.

TONEMS members are already working towards more education and training in life saving techniques and actions to become paramedics. For the Town of Newburgh, current EMTs (emergency medical technicians) within TONEMS are all trained in BLS. “Right now, we have multiple members that are already signed up or in school to become paramedics,” said Napolitano. “Some of our staff who are currently EMTs, I’m offering to pay for some of their tuition, to be able to become paramedics.”

For 2024, Napolitano is looking to recruit an Assistant Chief, specialized in ALS, that will help him and the current TONEMS Chief Bryan Williams build the ALS program and department internally. Over two dozen applications have been submitted for the position. Other officers and paramedics will also be recruited to join TONEMS ranks. Once a leadership team is established, TONEMS will also fill out and complete Drug Enforcement Administration, New York State and federal paperwork.

Alongside the three ambulances that operate, TONEMS will look to purchase two additional ALS fly cars to add to their fleet that would be outfitted with ALS gear. In an emergency situation, if an ambulance and fly car are active and there is an ALS coded call, they have the ability to meet, the paramedic goes into the ambulance with the patient while addressing the ALS call and then EMTs are able to go back into active service, explained Napolitano.

The overall process to becoming an ALS agency can take anywhere from six months to a year’s time, according to Napolitano. The anticipated date of when TONEMS will become a live ALS agency is January 1, 2025 but should everything fall into place, then TONEMS can go ahead and go live later this year.

Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson, a supporter of TONEMS who last fall was able to provide funding for a new ambulance, said: “First, it should speed up the service, the quality of service, since the Town of Newburgh EMS will not have to wait at the scene of an accident for the paramedics to come from another location,” said Jacobson. “Secondly, by having it in house, it should save costs.”

Newburgh Town Supervisor Gil Piaquadio also shared his thoughts on the direction of TONEMS: “I am glad to see the Town of Newburgh EMS (TONEMS) is taking steps to enhance its ability to provide top emergency medical services to our community,” said Piaquadio. “They plan to transition from a Basic Life Support (BLS) agency to an Advanced Life Support (ALS) agency. Such a transition is the highest standard of care for the residents of Newburgh.”