After 20 employees of the Ambulance Service of Fulton County walked off the job in protest at 6 p.m. Tuesday, leaving Gloversville Mayor Dayton King to try to pick up the pieces and decide what to do to maintain ambulance coverage.
“I am just hoping we can have consistency,” he said.
According to Tobin Cash, president of the ambulance’s board of directors, the employees walked out due to problems that had been brewing since January, after the retirement of their longtime manager, Howard Hime. The employees who walked out wanted the service to merge with the Greater Amsterdam Volunteer Ambulance Corps, but the board wanted to either remain independent or do more in-depth research before any merger.
“I think they got the misinformation that we were about to go bankrupt,” Cash said. “We are not going to go bankrupt. We’re solvent. We’re maintaining our balances. We’re not hugely profitable, but we’re not losing a ton of money.”
The employees who wanted to merge felt the move would improve job security and stability, according to GAVAC Executive Director Thomas Pasquarelli. He said some of the people who walked out have already spoken to GAVAC.
“Obviously if the need arises, we will certainly hire those employees,” he added.
According to King, five employees chose to stay on after their colleagues departed, and 10 replacements were hired. Christopher Georgia is the interim manager of the service, but he had little to say Wednesday about the situation.
“There has been no interruption in our service, and I have no further comment at this time,” he said.
At 6 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall, King will hold a meeting with the City Council to decide whether to keep the Ambulance Service of Fulton County as the city's ambulance provider or sign a certificate of need, which would allow GAVAC to come in and take over. Until then, King plans to continue talks with GAVAC and the interim manager about the best way to move forward.
GAVAC currently serves the southern portion of Fulton County, but with the certificate of need it would cover the entire county, which could mean the end of the Ambulance Service of Fulton County.
Pasquarelli said GAVAC would be open to talks about what steps could be taken next.
As for the needs of the county right now, Cash said there has been no problem in serving local residents.
“We were up to full speed and making calls with no problem. It was amazing,” he said of the post-walkout transition. “We were kind of ready for it, and people came out of nowhere to help us.”