John and Lenore Lanka had just gotten back to their home in Broadalbin from a trip to Montana back in 2016.
John had been battling pneumonia. One day shortly after their return, he appeared to be getting weaker and weaker, Mrs. Lanka recalled Tuesday.
She got her husband into bed, and he continued to weaken. Over his protestations, she decided to call the Galway EMS.
Within five minutes, the squad was at their home, where crew members were able to stabilize him and get him to the ER at St. Mary’s Hospital in Amsterdam.
“Oh, thank heavens that you did this,” she said doctors told her.
Another time, she recalled, her neighbor had experienced an emergency asthma/allergy attack and couldn’t breathe.
Again, the Galway EMS crew responded within a few minutes and were able to restore her breathing, get her to Saratoga Hospital, and save her life.
Another neighbor suffering from multiple sclerosis had to have the ambulance service respond to their home numerous times, Mrs. Lanka said.
“Why on Earth,” she asked, “would you not want this in your town?”
That’s what voters in the town of Galway will be deciding today as they head to the polls to vote on a referendum to create an ambulance tax district.
If passed, the new tax would add about $44 per year to the tax bill of a resident living in a home assessed at $150,000 and about $59 to the tax bill for a home valued at $200,000.
That works out to be about $3 to $5 per month for the average homeowner for what Mrs. Lanka calls “immediate year-round health insurance.”
Last year, the ambulance service responded to 418 calls, more than one a day, and covered more than 14,500 miles in serving 6,000 local residents.
With costs rising, the number of volunteers declining, Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements being inadequate to support its service, and a greater need to apply for grants and conduct fund-raising, the taxing district will help stabilize the service’s finances and help allow it to continue to provide service for residents 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
The alternative for Galway residents to a thriving Galway EMS is waiting for an ambulance to arrive from Amsterdam or Ballston Spa.
What price do you put on a family member’s life? On your own life? On the life of a neighbor’s or friend’s life?
For a few dollars a month, Galway residents can continue to count on an ambulance showing up at their door within a few precious minutes of a 9-1-1 call.
Why on Earth would you vote no?