Enable fire departments to improve response times and level of service – at no cost to the taxpayers
(Long Island, NY) Senator John E. Brooks, a volunteer firefighter and Ex-Chief of the Seaford Fire Department joined fire service leaders and elected officials assembled in Port Washington today to call on the Legislature to support a bill that would alleviate an affordability crisis affecting fire departments across New York State. Fire departments are the only EMS providers in New York State currently prohibited from recovering any of the associated EMS costs, yet staffing an ambulance requires a significant investment in personnel, equipment, training, and time.
Senator John E. Brooks speaking in support of a bipartisan legislation to provide parity among New York State’s EMS providers. Photo Credit: Office of Senator John E. Brooks.
Senator John E. Brooks said, “Volunteer Firefighters and EMTs go above and beyond to protect their community and answer their neighbors’ calls for help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s only logical to allow all ambulance services to bill insurance companies to recover the associated costs of providing Emergency Medical Services. Removing the restriction on volunteer-based EMS to bill insurance companies will help alleviate the financial burden our taxpayers now absorb when our volunteers provide care to individuals in need of help. We must continue to ensure that all residents have access to fire and ambulance services in emergency situations, and I urge all of my colleagues to join me in supporting this crucial legislation.”
This legislation (S. 0363A / A. 7717A is a bipartisan effort to provide parity among New York State’s EMS providers. Much of the ambulance coverage in New York State is provided by fire departments, many of which are smaller and staffed with volunteers. These fire departments are responding to an ever-growing volume of medical calls, with many now handling more EMS calls than fire runs.
Long Island fire departments are among some of the busiest in the State, with many answering a particularly high volume of EMS calls. Long Island also has some of the highest property taxes and costs of living in New York. This legislation was carefully crafted to minimize the cost to taxpayers, and recovering costs is not a mandate, but rather an option for those fire departments that need it. Cost recovery will ensure that ambulances are properly staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by allowing fire departments to hire paid EMTs as needed, while also likely yielding improved response times.
The passage of this legislation would give some much-needed financial assistance to many of the State’s fire departments, while also likely yielding improved response times and service for New Yorkers.
For more than 45 years, Senator Brooks has been an active volunteer firefighter with the Seaford, Medford and Lindenhurst Fire Departments, previously serving as Seaford’s Chief of Department. Prior to Super Storm Sandy, Senator Brooks was the Chairman of the Long Island Hurricane Symposium Programs where he worked hand-in-hand with hurricane experts and the National Weather Services to evaluate risk on Long Island.