Home Dutchess County Lawmakers briefed on EMS crisis; Mid-Hudson News video gets mention (VIDEO)

Lawmakers briefed on EMS crisis; Mid-Hudson News video gets mention (VIDEO)

Lawmakers briefed on EMS crisis; Mid-Hudson News video gets mention (VIDEO)

PUCKHKEEPSIE Dana Smith, the Dutchess County Commissioner of Emergency Response, was scheduled to brief the Public Safety Committee of the Dutchess County Legislature on Thursday. Rather, almost all 25 legislators and first responder community members were there in the chambers to hear Smith discuss the quickly developing EMS situation.

Similar to many other counties in the state and nation, Dutchess County is facing a shortage of ambulances to respond to emergency calls. According to Smith, there were over 400 ignored ambulance calls in Dutchess County in 2023. As a result, many patients found alternative ways to get to the hospital.

According to Smith, forty percent of priority one calls in 2023 did not result in an ambulance arriving on the scene within the nine minutes that are thought to provide the best chance of saving a patient’s life. Emergency calls classified as priority one include heart attacks, strokes, and severe injuries causing significant blood loss.

Ambulance response times are affected by a number of factors, the most important of which is a shortage of volunteers. The majority of ambulances have been run by volunteer fire or ambulance departments for more than 50 years. There is now more reliance on commercial ambulances due to a decline in volunteer numbers. Unfortunately, many talented workers have been compelled to quit for higher-paying, less stressful positions in other fields due to the poor pay that comes with working as an EMT or paramedic for a commercial ambulance service. Smith did point out that although commercial ambulance firms pay their EMTs and medics to be on call around-the-clock, the companies are only able to bill for the calls that their crew actually attends. Paying for a crew only to be prepared is expensive, as Smith noted, because you can’t get paid until the crew answers a call.

Ambulance workers are frequently preoccupied with transporting patients who called 911 but may not have required one given the little illness or injury they are experiencing, which contributes to the delayed response. Recently, Mid-Hudson News released a humorous video listing the top 10 reasons people call 911 for an ambulance even when they don’t actually need one. Smith gave Mid-Hudson News credit for initiating what he described as a public education campaign aimed at lessening the burden on the emergency medical system.

Additionally, Smith plans to start meeting with the agencies in April as part of a network that the county is organizing that will involve cooperation across organizations located in different parts of the county. Captain Robert Ridley of the Fairview Fire Department, who is also an officer with the Dutchess County EMS Council, is happy that the county is making efforts to lessen the burden on the system. I’m glad the county is taking action on the matter, and I’m excited about Commissioner Smith’s proposed collaborative initiatives.

Commissioner Smith’s film, which includes the instructional Mid-Hudson News video mentioned:

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