GovernmentThe Examiner

Eight Westchester Towns to Add Advanced Life Support Fly Car Next Year

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A sharp increase in daytime calls will force the eight northern Westchester municipalities that comprise the Advanced Life Support Consortium to add a fourth fly car for 12 hours a day by next summer.

Westchester EMS (WEMS) has informed the seven towns and the Village of Mount Kisco that with the call volume having more than doubled in the past 20 years and average response times rising to nearly 10 minutes in 2022, an additional car with Advanced Life Support is required, particularly during daytime hours. Response times had consistently been between eight and nine minutes since shortly after the service’s inception in 2000, until the last two years.

In 2022, there were 6,958 calls to WEMS, compared to 3,375 in 2002.

“Those two minutes may not seem like a lot to folks, but when somebody’s having a stroke, when somebody’s having a heart attack, when somebody’s having these emergency issues, every minute matters,” said Mount Kisco Village Manager Ed Brancati.

As a result, the municipalities that are part of the consortium – Bedford, Lewisboro, New Castle, North Castle, Somers, Pound Ridge, North Salem and Mount Kisco – will have to pay an additional expense for the extra service, which would have ranged from about $24,000 to $81,000 for the full year in 2024.

However, with the seven towns having their fiscal year start Jan. 1, a majority of the consortium members is electing to bring in the additional fly car starting July 1 to help them more easily absorb the extra expense.

“We certainly indicated that we would be fine with the six months,” said New Castle Administrator Jill Shapiro, speaking of the arrangement for next year.

The fourth fly car would be scheduled to begin each day at 7 or 8 a.m. for the 12-hour shift once it begins, Brancati said.

The cost for the three existing cars was already slated to rise from 6.3 percent in Mount Kisco to a high of 12.7 percent in Pound Ridge for 2024. Cost to each participating municipality is determined through a formula based on factors such as population, land area and a three-year call volume, according to Brancati.

With the current three cars, Mount Kisco would be paying just over $244,000 in 2024 for the full year of service, a $14,000 increase over the current year; New Castle about $385,000, a $32,000 hike; North Castle $321,000, a $25,000 increase; and Somers more than $522,000, $39,000 more.

A full year with the additional fly car in 2024 would have added $24,000 in North Salem; about $26,000 in Pound Ridge; $38,000 in Mount Kisco; $47,000 in Lewisboro; just under $50,000 in North Castle; $60,000 in New Castle; more than $74,000 in Bedford; and $81,000 in Somers.

According to data released by WEMS, when a call was received with all three cars available, the response time was 9.6 minutes. However, when there were simultaneous calls for service, those times begin to increase to more than 10 minutes when one and two cars were being used, which occurred last year 47 percent of the time, and to more than 12 minutes when all three cars were in service, although that happened just 2 percent of the time in 2022.

As of last week, Mount Kisco, Somers and North Salem had all approved the additional car effective July 1, and New Castle was poised to agree to it as well. Outside of Mount Kisco, which has a fiscal year beginning June 1, the seven towns are all in the midst of budget deliberations for their 2024 spending plans.


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