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Albany hears Alden's request to permanently contract with Lancaster ambulance service

Lancaster Ambulance

The Town and Village of Alden are looking for a permanent solution to the need for ambulance service - and this week appeals to Albany for help.

The story goes back a couple of years, when American Medical Response pulled out of the county's outer ring of towns, as business boomed in Buffalo. That created a problem for towns, left without access to high-tech ambulance service.

Alden Supervisor Richard Savage says his town received permission from Albany to set up a temporary-two-year ambulance district contracted with Lancaster Volunteer Ambulance Company to provide the service. Savage says if there is an issue, Lancaster is close by, compared to AMR's management, which is not.

"It's been excellent. Very few complaints," says Savage of Alden's partnership with Lancaster. "We've been under contract with them for two years and, really, I could count on a couple of fingers the amount of complaints we had. They're nice. I can pick up the phone and talk to anyone in there. So, yes, they're a great outfit to deal with."

On Thursday, state emergency service regulators are holding a hearing on making that ambulance district permanent and continuing the contract with Lancaster.

"The four fire companies all have emergency responders, so the help is close by," Savage says. "Transport, advanced life-saving transport, is what we need the ambulances for. The village has its own basic transport. They serve part of the town."

Savage says volunteers have been good about getting the specialized training, but they can get held up at a hospital for several hours when making a transport, leaving a shortage in emergency personnel available to respond to other calls.

"It's the amount of training that's necessary for EMTs and so on and so forth, it's a big commitment of training," sayd Savage. "Then if you do get an ambulance call from a volunteer fire company, the village is the only company that's running an ambulance out of the four in Alden. So if those guys go into a hospital, they are probably going to be there three hours."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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