Updated 06/29/2011 05:53 AM
NYS Health Department tells Utica to halt ambulance service
The City of Utica could be without its own city ambulance service. This comes after the New York State Department of Health has issued the city a cease and desist letter that says they must end their municipal ambulance service as of July 1.
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UTICA, N.Y. -- Each year in Utica, when thousands of citizens call 911 they are served by the city's ambulance service. All of that could come to a grinding halt this Friday. The state department of health has ordered those services stopped, saying their operating license is expired and after several applications to re-up have been rejected. Though these wranglings are not new to city officials, they say the abrupt order is worrisome.
"We are running three ambulances, and they're going constantly. Who is going to pick up that slack? I mean at the end of the day, we have got to be the responders. It's our obligation to make sure our residents are safe," said Mayor David Roefaro.
Despite the presence of a private ambulance service also in operation, officials contend the loss of city ambulance service would mean a significant safety risk to citizens.
"They provide a very high level of pre-hospital. I believe that affects morbidity, and mortality rates. It would just be tragic," Fire Chief Russell Brooks said.
In addition to a potential decrease in emergency health care, ending operations for Utica ambulances could also severely affect the city's budget. In light of that two-fold impact, there is a new call for financial transparency with the Utica City ambulance service.
Some in city government contend an audit proving once and for all the financial viability and impact of the ambulance service could influence its fate.
"It's a good time for us, especially with the certificate of need now again being in question, will there be an appeal, will the ambulance service continue? I've been asking for this report since March. Let's get it out. We know they provide a great service a great service. Let's find out what the financial picture is," said Utica Common Councilor Jerry Krause.
If services are shut down, city paramedics will still be on scene to treat those in need, but will unable to transport them to hospitals.