BREAKING: The saga of existing and future Allegany County, NY, emergency medical services (EMS) is continuing tomorrow, with County Administrator Carissa Knapp requesting the Board of Legislators Public Safety Committee to give permission to receive proposals for a study to determine future county involvement.
The action comes after the legislature’s Public Safety and Ways and Means committees suddenly agreed on October 5 to proceed immediately with an up to $600,000 contract with Medical Transport Service of Scio for six months of backup ambulance services county-wide despite the full Board not approving an agreement until a week later.
Minimal information was provided after a closed door meeting at the time as to what was being contracted for, other than an indication that services would cease to exist if the county didn’t provide the funding.
Knapp, in a subsequent press release, said that “the County is taking a giant step forward in these efforts by collaborating with Medical Transport Services, Inc. (MTS), the primary private provider of EMS services in Allegany County, by entering into a contract with MTS while the parties enter discussions regarding the possibility of the County assuming ambulance operations.”
Freedom of Information Law request filed
Allegany Hope Community News immediately filed a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request for “Any offer for services, proposal, or other written document or documents, including correspondence related thereto, between Medical Transport Services (MTS) of Scio, or representatives thereof, and Allegany County or any county representative.”
County Attorney Allison Carrow responded that “Allegany County has forwarded your request to the various County departments that may have records responsive. Allegany County anticipates providing you an answer as to whether there are records responsive to your request no later than November 2, 2022,” which would be tomorrow, but also alleged that “certain information may be denied.”
No further response to our request has been received as of this writing.
Services being provided as used
Subsequently, during another unexpected closed door meeting of the Ways and Means Committee on October 12 to discuss a real estate transaction, MTS owner Dan Marsh told Allegany Hope Community News that the up to $600,000 was being billed on a services used basis.
He said he had been trying to sell his business for the past year-and-a-half and an anticipated purchaser was unable to follow through.
At the Board meeting approving the contract, suddenly using federal American Rescue Program Act (ARPA) funds, legislators John Ricci of Cuba and Adam Cyr of Bolivar voted “no,” with Ricci saying he had “never seen a contract so easy” and that it should be “tightened up.” He subsequently told Allegany Hope Community News that it was more like a memorandum of understanding than a contract.
Smatterings of information have been forthcoming, with our exclusive report last week from a Legislative District II meeting in Friendship that three county legislators, Ricci, and Gretchen Hanchett and Dwight (Mike) Healy of Belmont, indicated they were given little notice of the funding package and felt they were being “backed up against the wall to approve it.”
Each of them indicated they are against the county “going into the ambulance business,” with Hanchett saying “we don’t know all our facts” at this time and the Board has to do “our due diligence” in determining the best course of action.
Positive spin given
Knapp attempted today to put a positive spin on the current situation, full facts of which still haven’t been provided to the public, saying in a Memorandum of Explanation for tomorrow’s meeting that:
“Allegany County has progressed several EMS initiatives in 2022 including the formation of an EMS Advisory Board, securing an EMS Medical Director, and initializing Paramedic training to begin in January 2023.
“Recently, the County also began exploring whether or not it should create or purchase a county-wide Certificate of Need (from the state for ambulance services).
“As the County looks ahead, it will need to determine what its future role should be in assisting and coordinating volunteer EMS agencies.
“Additionally, the County will need to determine what is the best use of County resources towards those objectives.
“The requested study will assist in that analysis and is part of the County’s efforts to evaluate existing EMS operations within the County to make recommendations for the long-term success, stability, and improved efficiency and safety for both EMS services and the public.”
She said there is no current fiscal impact as it relates to a study, with the request being “only to solicit proposals and does not require funds at this time.”
Several of our stories, which provide additional background on this evolving process, are available by searching MTS on our Allegany Hope Community News website at https://bit.ly/3yYyVUt.
– Stock photo.
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