Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

Local committee calls on Pelham Town Board to approve ambulance pact with Eastchester EMS

Editor’s note: This statement was provided by the Pelham Needs An Ambulance Organizing Committee. The Pelham Examiner publishes statements in the form received as a service to the community.

We are writing to support Pelham’s agreement with Eastchester EMS to improve the state of Pelham’s Emergency Medical Services.

Pelham is the only town in Westchester without a dedicated ambulance service. Recent tragedies have highlighted the issue; however, this has been a long-standing problem exacerbated by COVID and the shortages in the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) field. In 2021, Pelham’s use of the mutual aid system, a backup ambulance network of neighboring towns, went up by 500% whereas other towns only went up by 50%. In many documented instances in Pelham, an ambulance has taken in excess of 15 minutes to arrive and on several occasions has not shown up for an emergency call.

Through the extraordinary efforts of the Town of Pelham Board, The Pelham Fire Department and many concerned citizens, including many EMS industry experts, Pelham is close to finalizing a contract with a new ambulance provider, Eastchester EMS (EVAC), that will address many of our concerns.

In our new agreement, Pelham will have a dedicated ambulance operated by Eastchester EMS staffed with a paramedic, which is the highest level of emergency professional care outside of an ER, and an EMT. This will be in addition to the dedicated Fly Car stationed in Pelham at all times, which will also be staffed and operated by Eastchester EMS. The Fly Car carries life saving equipment and a paramedic to administer life saving care while waiting for an ambulance. This dual coverage, in addition to the many first responders across both villages trained as EMTs, should give us robust EMS coverage.

Our new agreement also stipulates that we will have more transparency around response times and a service-level agreement tied to response times which will create clear accountability and incorporate remediation measures if those times are not met. These safeguards will help ensure consistent, high quality EMS coverage going forward.

Importantly, Eastchester EMS is a community focused organization. Eastchester started as a volunteer organization, and they still maintain a strong sense of volunteerism and community spirit. To that end, they will offer free CPR classes in town, engage in community events, maintain an active presence through their social media pages and welcome volunteers.  (Of course, Eastchester EMS also employs paid professional paramedics and EMTs to ensure high quality 24/7 coverage.)

Many may be surprised to learn that the ambulance is one of only a few shared services for the Town of Pelham, meaning it spans both the Village of Pelham and Village of Pelham Manor. This vastly improved service will cost more and subsequently we may see a marginal tax increase (Town Supervisor McLaughlin stated at the Town Board Meeting in June that he estimated a roughly $325/year for $1M of assessed value). To put this in perspective, the current ambulance budget is $275,000 and will grow to $1.5M. This is a small fraction compared to our school budget, which was approved by voters and grew from $84 million to $91 milllion last year. This is a marginal increase and a small price to pay for life saving care.

The last step to finalizing a new contract with Eastchester EMS is approving the contract and the associated budget in December. If you’d like to express your support, click here to add your name to our list of over 100 concerned residents who are supporting the contract with Eastchester EMS and please come to the Town of Pelham board meeting in person to express your support to the board.

Pelham is a wonderful place to live and nothing is more important than the health and safety of our residents. Please join us in supporting this important step forward in improving our community!

Pelham Needs An Ambulance Organizing Committee

Katie Keenan

Ashley Mills

Katy Yang

Brittney Price

Jennifer Iacono

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