A conversation, months in the making, finally took place last month, when Town of Montgomery officials finally met with the consultants hired to help with the creation of a new ambulance district within the town.
Representatives of Emergency Management Resources LLC, based in the Capital District, met with the Montgomery Town Board at its most recent meeting.
“While you are here, we’d love to have as productive a consultation with as many of the stakeholders as possible,” said Town Supervisor Brian Maher who cautioned audience members to avoid “being unruly.”
On hand for the town board’s July 21 meeting was Chris Kostyun, a paramedic for 15 years and self-described “logistics and analytics” person and Peter Berry, a 40 year paramedic, with 30 years municipal experience in the Town of Colonie, an Albany suburb.
“We are looking at the level of service currently being provided,” Berry said. “Also looking at level of service that may be needed, along with budgeting subdivision.”
The consultants have also met via telephone or Zoom with representatives of three villages within the Town of Montgomery, including Walden, which has not yet opted in to the ambulance district. The village of Montgomery and Maybrook have opted in to the district, which is scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023.
Berry said they had more than one meeting with the Village of Walden, to make sure we addressed all of their concerns” as well as with representatives of the Town of Montgomery Ambulance Corps.
“I think you guys are running a good operation,” Berry said to the Ambulance Corps staffers on hand, adding that there was very active dialogue. “They were very open to some of the recommendations we gave them.”
The consultants also met with the Town of Newburgh EMS at the request of Walden officials. Their review of the Town of Montgomery Ambulance Service noted that it is a 24/7 Basic Life Support (BLS) unit that, at times, can staff a second ambulance. It is primarily served by paid staff, but supported by some volunteers as well.
There is a need, the consultants noted, to provide Advanced Life Support (ALS) in the Town of Montgomery community.
“…There is a need for consistent, advanced life support availability for the Town of Montgomery,” Berry said. “In speaking to the Town of Montgomery Ambulance and also the Town of Newburgh basically said the availability - and I’ll quote this from the Town of Newburgh – the availability of the local advanced life support agency - who I would rather not name - was horrific. So I think there is a tremendous need to provide consistent, available, advanced life support here in the Town of Montgomery, versus responding from a mutual aid perspective.”
The consultants found the vehicles to be in “excellent condition,” but the facility that are using on North Montgomery Street in Walden, they determined, is in need of significant capital investment.
Then consultants recommended that the town issue a request for proposals (RFP) that could have several options:
- Option 1 would be to seek a Paramedic ALS intercept service that would provide assistance to the existing town of Montgomery EMS service. The ALS unit should be either housed or posted within the town. The Ambulance Corps could also participate in the RFP and bid this service as well.
- Option 2 would be to seek a provider of 24/7 ALS service, with an ambulance based full-time in the town, and a second rig available when the first is on a call.
The consultants said the options would also allow the existing Town of Montgomery Ambulance Corps to expand and provide full-time ALS service, which is the ultimate goal of the ambulance district, or utilizing the current ambulance corps for BLS services and contract out the ALS. Presently, an outside ALS service is summoned to assist the existing ambulance service when needed.
The town could also establish its own ALS department and hire its own staff. The Town of Colonie, similar in size to Montgomery, provides such a service.
“You can make some of these decisions once the RFPs are returned and you get some idea of the costs,” Berry said.
“It’s my intention to keep all of our stakeholders involved in the discussions and the progress,” Maher said, “including the drafting of the RFP.”
Town Board Member Kristen Brown asked if the town would need to purchase another ambulance if it were to provide ALS services on its own.
“That’s certainly an option,” Maher replied.
Former Walden Trustee Cheryl Baker asked what would the various models presented.
“We don’t know what the RFPs will bring,” Berry said. “ In a couple of months, once the RFP comes back, we can certainly give you better numbers.”
The town will work with the consultant to draft a RFP in time for its scheduled August 4 meeting.