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Canajoharie, NY ,

Village board names GAVAC lead 911 responder

Wednesday, March 05, 2014 - Updated: 5:21 AM


C-S-E Editor

CANAJOHARIE -- On Tuesday evening, the Canajoharie Village Board decided unanimously, minus absent trustees Jena Coppernoll and Stanley Smith, to name Greater Amsterdam Volunteer Ambulance Corps. the village's lead ambulance service, replacing Mid-County Volunteer Ambulance Service, Canajoharie's primary emergency responder since the agency's creation in 1969.

GAVAC Executive Director/Paramedic Thomas P. Pasquarelli, Jr. said, in a presentation asking the board to consider designating GAVAC Canajoharie's lead 911 responder, Mid-County "has done a great job for 35-40 years -- unfortunately, times have changed."

He stated of GAVAC, "we are the largest ambulance service in our six county medical region -- certainly the largest in Montgomery County," covering all of Montgomery County in some capacity, including as a mutual aid responder, along with parts of Fulton County.

GAVAC is aware of several problems in this end of the county, and Pasquarelli said that the fact has been "proven by various councils and advisory boards that another ambulance service, is, in fact, needed in this area."

He continued, "As ambulance services, you have to be willing to make changes -- working with patients you serve, increasing your level of care, providing up-to-date equipment," and offering advanced and community paramedicine.

GAVAC has a fleet of vehicles, 22 advanced standing paramedics and are equipped with narcotics currently unavailable to Mid-County Volunteer Ambulance Service, such as pain and potentially life-saving seizure medications.

Pasquarelli said "we have documented proof," from Montgomery County 911 systems, "that level of care in this area has decreased." To date, GAVAC has handled 32 calls locally in 2014 as a mutual aid agency, including one directly prior to Tuesday's meeting.

If the village were to name GAVAC the village's lead 911 responder, Pasquarelli said that his agency, which is in the process of hiring ten additional staff members, would purchase "at least one" ambulance specifically for this area, where GAVAC is currently also looking to acquire property.

"We believe that the people of Canajoharie, Fort Plain, Nelliston and Palatine absolutely, 100 percent deserve the same level of care that the people of Amsterdam, St. Johnsville and Fonda get currently, and that is not happening," he said, noting that GAVAC also serves as a full fledged training center that educates paramedics in-house.

Police Chief Bryan MacFadden asked why Rural/Metro Corporation wasn't involved in the conversation. It was noted by Deputy Mayor Ron Dievendorf that Rural Metro has fallen to the third position regarding 911 responses in the village. Pasquarelli said "they do not have a presence in Montgomery County," and do not "staff a truck in Montgomery County full time."

"They are not part of the 911 system currently, in other that they're the third ambulance to be called because that's it — they're the only ones left."

Before making a motion to name GAVAC Canajoharie's lead ambulance agency, Dievendorf stated, in full, "Shortly after they organized in 1969, I was a member of Mid-County Ambulance Service when I moved to Canajoharie after college. I know the role that the organizers fulfilled in establishing medical transport. Previously, funeral directors transported patients to the hospital in the hearse. The community was grateful in 1969 and embraced the organization, furnishing monies, space and volunteers."

"I was a member for over 15 years and proud of my service. I made good friends in the corps, became EMT certified three times, served all roles both attendant and driver, and enjoyed being part of Mid-County's esprit de corps."

"It grieves me to now recognize that Mid-County is no longer the most qualified healthcare EMS provider. There is a higher standard of care available to the residents of Canajoharie. I move that we designate GAVAC as our first choice for 911 calls."


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