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What you need to know for 07/27/2017

Editorial: Time to extinguish flames over Rotterdam EMS

Editorial: Time to extinguish flames over Rotterdam EMS

Dispute has gone on far too long, becoming a distraction for board, rescue squad and citizens

The frustrating situation involving the town of Rotterdam and the Rotterdam Emergency Medical Squad is kind of like one of those trick birthday candles.

Just when you think you've extinguished the flame, up it pops again.

It's fun the first couple of times it happens, but after a while, it just gets tedious.

So it is with the REMS contract situation, which seems to have dominated the news in the town for the better part of a decade. Politics, personalities and occasionally a few legitimate issues fuel the controversy, which never seems to end.

In April, it appeared everyone was ready to play nice. The two sides had spent months working out a deal, which the squad had been without four months at that time. Town Supervisor Harry Buffardi, who supported Mohawk Ambulance over awarding the town's emergency services contract to REMS in December, said it appeared the sides were "very close" to reaching an agreement.

Candle finally extinguished, right? Look again.

Nearly four months later, the contract dispute erupted again, at Thursday's Town Board meeting, when the board tabled a contract proposal that the head of the emergency squad said only received from the town a couple of hours before the meeting.

There's another contract proposal floating around. But the board on Thursday didn't have the votes to bring it to the floor for a vote. This contract was another hammered out in June with the town's Emergency Medical Review Board, which consists of two Town Board members, members of the public, and fire, police and REMS officials. One board member Thursday unexpectedly abstained from that vote, keeping it from being considered.

REMS officials continue to allege that some board members have hidden agendas in keeping the contract from being signed. They say the reporting requirements contained in the latest incarnations go far beyond what is necessary for the town to properly monitor the squad's activities.

How about we try this? How about everyone stops acting like children and start acting in the best interests of the town residents who are served by the emergency squad.

If the sides were very close to a contract resolution four months ago, why are they still going through this today? Is it in anyone's interests, least of all the citizens of Rotterdam, that the board and the emergency squad keep this feud going?

At the next meeting between the Town Board and the Emergency Squad (which should be held in public, by the way), REMS officials should list their concerns about each of the requirements one by one. Town officials should then respond to them by having to justify them, every one of them. If town officials can't agree on why a particular rule or requirement is needed, then throw it out. It's probably not needed.

The situation is distracting from other town business, keeping the emergency squad from focusing solely on its duty to serve the citizens of Rotterdam, and perpetuating conflicts between Town Board members.

It's silly, unproductive and unnecessary. Everyone make a wish and blow out this candle once and for all.

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