ROTTERDAM – Rotterdam Emergency Medical Services is getting $1.1 million in state funding, and its director has been officially appointed to the state’s Rural Ambulance Task Force, according to an announcement made Tuesday by New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.
The funding will help pay to replace three of the Rotterdam EMS’ five ambulances and update one of its two stations, said Executive Director Dean Romano.
Signed into law during the 2021-22 legislative session, the Rural Ambulance Task Force is charged with several initiatives, including making recommendations to the state legislature on funding needs and policy issues concerning ambulance services in rural communities.
“I’m certainly honored to be part of this task force. But I’m happier that we are actually going to start taking a look at some of the problems facing EMS,” said Romano, who has worked in the EMS field for nearly three decades. “Some of the infrastructure of EMS in New York State needs an infusion of new life — and resources,”
Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara sponsored legislation establishing the task force, and earlier this year, he recommended Romano serve on the board.
“As executive director, Dean [Romano] knows the intricacies of running a rural EMS, and he will be a great addition to the state’s rural ambulance task force,” Santabarbara said in a statement.
Speaker Heastie echoed those sentiments.
“First responders literally save lives in our communities everyday,” Heastie said in a press release about the announcement. “I’m happy to be here today with Assemblymember Santabarbara to announce this funding that will help REMS get the ambulances and upgrades they need to continue doing their lifesaving work. And I know that Dean Romano will be an asset to the rural ambulance task force.”
The 12-member task force will be conducting a study on the availability of ambulance services in rural areas, focusing on the unique challenges they face and their ability to provide services, according to Santabarbara’s December 2021 announcement about the signed bill. The report will include an analysis of the total number of ambulance services available in rural areas of the state; an assessment of current reimbursement structure plans for ambulances services as well as various methods to fund or otherwise raise revenue; an assessment of existing barriers to access that may have led to a shortage of available ambulance services to meet demand; and any other issues deemed relevant for study by the task force, according to Santabarbara.
Romano expected the task force to begin its work this fall. He said plans to replace the Rotterdam EMS vehicles and upgrade the station are still being formalized.
Rotterdam EMS provides advanced life support ambulance services to more than 29,000 residents of Rotterdam.
Andrew Waite can be reached at [email protected] and at 518-417-9338. Follow him on Twitter @UpstateWaite.