DUTCHESS COUNTY, N.Y. -- A recent study of Dutchess County Emergency Medical Services released Tuesday found a patchwork system of services throughout the county that offered inconsistent aid to residents.
Conducted by a 28-member Task Force created by Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro in 2016, the group worked closely with Marist College to identify, develop, and recommend county-coordinated solutions for the EMS system, the county said in a press release.
The report found a patchwork system of EMS throughout the county, with local municipalities and fire districts opting for differing approaches resulting in fragmented, inconsistent, and non-standardized service delivery.
The data from the report revealed varying response times, levels of care and cost structures.
The level of care varied from Basic Life Support Services to Advanced Life Support Services. The result is the response time to a call and the level of care a patient receives in the county can vary greatly based on several factors including location, time of day, and day of the week, the report found.
The task force assessed local EMS provision by municipality and agency, revealing that EMS is provided by a multitude of agencies including volunteer and career fire departments, volunteer ambulance corps and commercial providers. Generally, fire districts direct most EMS activity in the county, however, local municipal governments are also engaged in contractual relationships with EMS providers.
The report found that EMS service agreements ranged from informal “handshake” agreements (no contract in place) to subsidized and unsubsidized contract relationships that may include partial coverage or 24/7 coverage.
"EMS in the county is severely strained, as demonstrated by lengthening response times and reduced levels of care, and in some cases, has failed the community as local services no longer exist or cannot respond, even if they appear on paper that they can," the report stated.
Other challenges uncovered included increased call volume, diminishing volunteers and rising costs for paid EMS.
And, unlike fire and police services, there are no federal or state mandates to provide EMS, the report said.
Within the county, there are 64 volunteer fire stations and 47 volunteer EMS stations, according to the report.
The report offered immediate, short- and long-term solutions to the problems, ranging from creating a single-source education and training EMS training calendar (this has already been completed) to the creation of an Emergency Services Authority, according to the report.
Task force members have agreed to stay on through 2017 in order to help implement the suggested changes.