By Neal Rentz
Following months of often contentious debate, officials of the Patterson Volunteer Fire Department are set to discuss a potential backup emergency medical services role with Supervisor Richard Williams this week.
Over the strong objections of the fire department, the town board decided to create a town EMS last year. The town board and fire department have butted heads the last several months.
At the Feb. 22 meeting, the town board voted unanimously to approve a contract with Partners in Safety to provide medical tests and the Hepatitis B vaccines for town EMTs.
The town board also voted unanimously to hire Christopher Langley as an EMT. Councilman Peter Dandreano said he and Councilman Shawn Rogan, as well as Denise Montana, the town’s EMS administrator, have been interviewing candidates for EMT positions. There are “a lot of good applicants” that they will continue to conduct interviews, he said.
Patterson Volunteer Fire Department No. 1 Chief Matt Szpindor said at last week’s meeting that at the Oct. 26 meeting, when the vote to approve a town EMS was taken, Williams said it would take three months to have the ambulance service up and running. “Next week it’s gong to be four months,” Szpindor said.
Szpindor said there has been discussion in town about potentially housing the ambulance stored in his fire house and having the department possibly providing secondary ambulance service. However, the town has not discussed those issues with him since the November 16 town board meeting, Szpindor said. His department’s contract expires on March 31, he noted. “I was wondering what the plan is,” he said.
“Do you want to come in and talk?” Williams asked Szpindor and Fire Department President Eleanor Smith.
“You can reach out to us and ask us,” Szpindor told Williams. “I have reached out to you,” Williams replied. “I’m ready to sit down and talk.”
Williams said he was open for the fire department to provide some EMS service if the department wants to.
Szpindor said he wanted to set up a meeting with Williams next week.
Fire Department Contracts
In related matters, the board voted to unanimously approved a new contract with the Putnam Lake Fire Department for $407,600.
The board did not take action on a new contract with the Volunteer Fire Department No. 1. Smith told the board her department’s attorney was still working on the potential agreement and she would provide it to Williams in the coming days. The board tabled a vote on a new contract with Department No. 1.
Also at last week’s meeting the town announced there is a new free lead testing program open to all New York residents. Rogan said the state Department of Health’s Free Lead Testing Pilot Program has funding of $1.5 million “It is available to all residents of New York State,” he said. “It is funding available to collect two water samples from your drinking water.”
Rogan said residents seeking the free tests should call the state Health Department at 518-402-7650. “You have to coordinate with the state,” he said.