Schenectady County

Princetown second priority for emergency service

Princetown is no longer at the top of the list for ambulances from Rotterdam Emergency Medical Servi

Princetown is no longer at the top of the list for ambulances from Rotterdam Emergency Medical Services Inc., according to a letter sent to the town’s supervisor.

Starting this week, the not-for-profit ambulance company will no longer guarantee the level of service it previously provided to the town. In a letter dated Dec. 5, the company’s board of directors indicated the change was “due to economic feasibility.”

“As of [Dec. 12], calls to Princetown will no longer be answered by primary ambulance service,” the later states. “REMS will continue to provide service with secondary response when possible.”

The missive comes after the town tried to negotiate down the $32,000 annual fee paid for service since 2009. Supervisor Melanie Whiteley said members of the Town Board proposed paying $8,000 next year, partially due to the small level of calls the company responds to in Princetown.

Over the past year, Whiteley said the company has averaged about six calls per month in the town. She said the previous contract works out to pay REMS about $440 per call, in addition to whatever the company is able to charge patients.

“We felt it was a pretty exorbitant amount to pay and wanted to renegotiate.”

Whiteley said REMS agreed to reduce the town’s subsidy to $22,000 per year. She said this amount still seems high, considering that neighboring Rotterdam pays nothing for the service.

“They won’t serve us as a primary ambulance, but they continue to serve Rotterdam without getting paid,” she said.

A call to a member of the Board of Directors was not returned Wednesday.

State Department of Health spokesman Pete Constantakes said REMS is under no obligation to serve Princetown in a primary capacity. He said the for-profit Mohawk Ambulance Service is also licensed to do business in the town, even though its base of operations is located about seven miles away in Schenectady.

“It may not be the best option, but there is an option available,” he said. “Our key is that there is service there.”

Princetown was among the municipalities that contracted with REMS when the company was facing financial difficulty in 2008. The town paid REMS $12,000 for two months of service after the Duanesburg Volunteer Ambulance Corp. indicated it could no longer serve the western portions of Princetown.

Rotterdam began paying REMS a subsidy of $10,000 per month in 2009. But with a change of supervisors the following year, this funding was eliminated.

Last year, Rotterdam officials pitched a tax district to support the company, but the effort was resoundingly defeated during a referendum. The town ultimately awarded a two-year contract with REMS in May, provided that the company could exist without taxpayer funding.

Mohawk has persistently courted Rotterdam with its service and also urged Princetown to come aboard prior to the vote in 2010. A call to the company was not returned.

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