County advances EMS pilot

ELIZABETHTOWN — The Essex County Board of Supervisors on Monday authorized the hiring of eight new paid paramedics and emergency medical technicians, a step toward implementing a pilot program for shared emergency medical services.

The pilot is intended to test whether a countywide shared EMS system would be feasible.

The new staffers, five paramedics and three EMTs, will work under the purview of the county to supplement existing EMS squads in Wilmington, Crown Point, Moriah and Ticonderoga. They’ll each be paid between $19.03 to $24.13 per hour. Those salaries will be fully funded by a $2.27 million state grant.

By improving service in this four-town test area, which has some of the highest rates of dropped calls in the county, the county stands to unlock an additional $4 million in state funding that could be used to expand the system countywide.

The county Board of Supervisors also authorized the purchase of 20 new defibrillators for no more than $60,000, paid for by the grant. As part of the pilot, four new medic cars are also set to be purchased and a new paid deputy EMS coordinator is being hired to administer the grant and provide additional training to local squads.

EMS bill still in committee

Separate from Essex County’s EMS pilot program, a pair of bills introduced in the state Senate and Assembly this year — which would give counties like Essex the ability to establish a special countywide taxing district to fund EMS services — have not yet reached the floor for a vote.

The bills were introduced in the Senate and Assembly by Sen. Betty Little, R-Queensbury, Assemblyman Billy Jones, D-Chateaugay, and Assemblyman Dan Stec, R-Queensbury. They remained in committee Monday, with 10 days left in the legislative session. Last year, the measure passed the Senate but failed to pass in the Assembly before the session ended.

(Correction: An earlier version of this article failed to mention that Stec also sponsored one of the bills.)


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