THURMAN -- The town emergency squad shut its doors Thursday without notifying Warren County or town officials.

The Thurman squad has spent two years in a funding battle with Supervisor Evelyn Wood and the Town Board, strife that was exacerbated in 2011 when Thurman EMS lost its certification for the most urgent emergencies.

Thurman EMS President Jean Coulard said Thursday the squad’s few remaining members voted Wednesday night to shutter the doors and stop responding to calls.

“For all practical purposes, we’re closed,” Coulard said.

But the county department that decides which squad responds to emergency calls hadn’t heard about the squad’s move until contacted by The Post-Star.

“We’ve been making phone calls trying to confirm it,” said Amy Drexel, the county’s deputy director of Emergency Services.

The squad’s decision not to notify local officials means Thurman EMS remained Thursday the on-call responding agency for health emergencies in Thurman. County dispatchers wait six minutes before calling a neighboring squad if the official local agency doesn’t respond.

The squad’s lack of communication amounted to an act that could have “endangered somebody’s life,” Drexel said.

The squad is working on the dissolution paperwork, Coulard said.

Coulard took direct aim at Wood while explaining the squad’s sudden decision to dissolve. The Town Board defunded Thurman EMS in its 2013 budget.

“What this woman has created in this town, it’s unbelievable,” Coulard said.

Wood, chairwoman of the Warren County Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee, was also caught off-guard when asked Thursday about her town’s sudden lack of emergency medical coverage.

“We’ve been trying to get them into negotiations,” she said. “We’ve had meetings with them to work out alternatives. It hasn’t gone anywhere.”

Thurman in 2011 contracted with Warrensburg EMS, because the Thurman squad couldn’t keep up with the volume of calls.

Warrensburg EMS pulled its bid to cover the community in 2012 after the town offered substantially less funding than squad leaders wanted. Warrensburg EMS absorbed a loss in 2011 when responding to Thurman calls.

Thurman EMS owes the town more than $750 for fuel, Wood said.

“We blame the town completely and so do most of the town’s people,” Coulard said.

Town and county officials scrambled Thursday to figure out what to do next.

“We’re keeping an eye on the situation,” Wood said. “We have a couple options.”

(23) comments

BCD21

Completely and unbelievably irresponsible! It's a shame a deal couldn't be worked out, but come on. Not that they can do much now, but the DOH should be involved in how that went down.

frozen_caveman_lawyer_bod

tho i don't live in Thurman, it's sad to see this agency shut down. also interesting how the chairwoman of the public safety committee won't even give her hometown EMS the appropriate finding. heck of a leader there. and good luck finding another agency to do it for less... we saw how long that lasted before. people don't realize what goes into emergency response anymore; at times it's a lot more complicated then grab the rig, throw the patient in and go.

but maybe now Thurman can afford that garbage pick-up service they talked about axing. seems at one time like their town board prefered owning a garbage truck over an emergency service. now people may have to wait a bit longer for emergency help, but at least the lawn can be free of debris when it does finally arrive!

sarcasm aside... to all TEMS members, as a local volunteer firefighter, i thank you and support you for the time and effort you've all put in over the years.

politicoQB
politicoQB

That's what the tea-partiers and the Small Government hawks want, though. EMS shouldn't be gov't subsidized. You need an ambulance? Look one up in the phone book, call and pay in advance via credit card, then they'll come give you a ride to the hospital.
Same goes for fire.
Paul Ryan would be proud.
All according to his plan.

THINKER

Have you ever used a private ambulance. It is very very expensive. The mileage charge alone is prohibitive. And they charge full price, no soft billing. Most folks in this area can't afford it. Why do you think Glens Falls went from Empire (private ambulance) to City coverage by the Fire Dept.?

Acitizen

I would think that instead of each individual small town funding hundreds of thousands of dollars to maintain their "own" EMS, those towns would be better off forming a "district" and subsidize a "for profit" ambulance to "hang out" in the rural areas to await calls.

There is a LOT of money wasted on redundant and under utilized emergency services....

THINKER

Establishing a district is extremely expensive. In the many, many thousands. A small funding would be much cheaper for any town. And a for profit would be a service that would be very expensive for the average individual. What exactly is an under-utilized service. What would be better - an ambulance that is there and not needed, or an ambulance that is needed and not there.

mightymouth

It,s a shame that The Town of Thurman is taking everything away in that Town. Now they are not funding E.M.S. What are the town leaders over there doing. I read in the Adirondack Journal That Warrensburg could cover the calls in Thurman a short period of time .But they too would need funding from Thurman . I think Mr,s wood and the Town board really need to think this over. And stop trying to get something for FREE !! They should involve the Tax payers in that Town and see what these voters want. Apparently the wrong people [Board Members ] are making the wrong decisions. I here the logo for Thurman is ALMOST HEAVEN Well they should change it to Gone To Hell!!!

mightymouth

I think that the post star should check on Mrs wood and see where all the money is that was granted to the town for roads and all the money that she was to save for taking the garbage truck away.If she has saved all this money by taking the garbage truck away she should be able to give that to the Thurman squad .As i have heard that she has put all of this money in to general fund so next year she can't make the town people think she has done a good job to keep the taxes down for an other year.

mightymouth

Mrs woods commit was she Did,nt know the squad was closing. I believe it was at Nov. or Dec. Town of Thurman board Meeting. Mrs Wood said The Town has no money to fund E.M.S. The Thurman E.M.S President told her they would have to close its doors. What did Mrs Wood expect this squad to do. With no money Mrs Wood knew this squad was going to close. But is acting like its a surprise to her. What a fake she is

FEFAN

Years ago, this service was all volunteer, with necessary funding raised by the members and gladly supported by their repsective communities. Empire comes along and hires a bunch of the local, money grubbing, "volunteers" and pretty soon everybody's got paid EMS staff. It's a bunch o' crap. You want to volunteer...volunteer...and shut up! After stupidly running my fingers into a running lawn mower back in 2001, I got a ride to the hospital by the Fort Edward Rescue Squad who billed my insurance carrier over $750 for the trip and a roll of gauze. They even kept the clean, white dish towel that I had used to stem the bleeding until they arrived. Never did get it back...it was my favorite!

nortnort
nortnort

To shut down a service such as this, without notice, is outrageous and irresponsible regardless of the reason. If you guys in "Gods Country" can't get your acts together it's time to get off the stage!

brian

I generally have a high regard for volunteer EMTs and firemen but what the so-called “leaders” of this organization did was unconscionable. If they want to shut their doors because the town won’t write them a blank check, then I suppose that’s their prerogative. But to shut down without seeing fit to inform the town and the county so they can make other arrangements so as not to PUT PEOPLE’S LIVES IN DANGER is despicable and unforgiveable. It may or may not be criminal negligence but it certainly should be. They should be ashamed of themselves.

THINKER

See the comment to nortnort!

Bill ikant
Bill ikant

Well fefan, before you commented you should have thought, The initial cost of a AMB ULANCE runs in the neighborhood of $140,000, (No inventory) Stretcher$2,500.00 O2 bottles, $300.00 ea, #of 2 so double it. That roll of gause came from a box of more than 4, Now lets add Workmans comp,Vehicle Insurance,Housing the rig, general maintaince on that rig.Training and other expensive costs. All for that $750.00 fee.Why dont you volunteer and give what others do while your in your comfies in Bad weather,all hours of the day.People like you expect this serivce but rarely do anythingv to support it..
Bill Dikant
Castledton, N.Y. 12033

FEFAN

Volunteer??? Been there...done that. Paid staff is the issue about which I complain now and will continue to do forever. I won't even delve into the area of the Taj Mahals that now house these "Rigs" to which you so lovingly refer. I feel I've struck too close to home for you.
Bill Collier
Fort Edward . NY

FEFAN

And why, Mr. Dikant, on this Feb 4th, at approx. 6:30 PM, would we still have Christmas lights still burning at this samesaid FERS building, and all the lights on in the apparatus bays, when there is no one in the apparatus bays, and why do we even have vending machines in the bay wherein the small SUV response vehicle is located? One of these machines is a refrigerated beverage machine...I anxiously await your justification.

Irv

I am a founding member of Thurman EMS, so it is especially painful to witness this happening. Times have changed, and it is not as easy to recruit volunteers... especially given that training requirements have been intensified.
What disturbs me the most is that we citizens of the town were never asked our opinion. Instead we were told we preferred lower taxes to the $35.00 a year we would need to pay for a fully staffed service (about what we also pay for the fire squad).
We are losing all that is good in this town, and the run away board is responsible.
And, yes, EMS did not handle this as responsible officers concerned about the welfare of the town they have served.

thurmanresident

Please read my response above. Thurman EMS did not close. They are still open, staffed by a volunteer EMT. Their plight has been in the Adirondack Journal for weeks, they have been at each Town Meeting discussing this issue. They have offered to give information to residents, who only had to call and request it. And you are right, they could stay open for the same amount the fire department receives. All funding was denied. Please call your Town Board to find out why your tax dollars cannot go where you want them to. This is important to all of us residents. Let your voice be heard.

patcher

The days of the "volunteer" as we once knew it, are forever gone thanks to our wonderful politicians and their constant flow of mandates regarding what it takes to fight a fire or help a fellow citizen in their time of stress. What they want is a fully paid fire company and ambulance service irregardless of the cost to the tax payers. Folks, wake up, their getting what they want no matter what it costs in property loss or human life.

alexandsammi

When I moved to Thurman from out of state I thought how great it was to have such an awesome place. It really was a good ole small town filled with good hometown people. Now Ms. wood has turned it into a disaster of a place. It is filled with so many elderly people how dare the town not help fund the EMS! What will they do when they are in need? Warrensburg is a great deal farther when seconds count! I think Ms. Woods should hope that the old saying "reap what you sow", is just an old wives tale!

thurmanresident

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I also moved here from out of state, and I love this little town. When Evelyn Wood first ran for office, she wrote an article in the Adirondack Journal stating that she fully supported the Thurman EMS. I drove 4 1/2 hours just to vote for her because of that article. I regret that now. Voices need to be heard. Please attend the meeting at the squad building this saturday at 10 AM. Maybe it's not too late to make a difference.

billybobskiff

I grew .up in a small town in MA. The same small town that Bill Cosby calls home Shelburne MA. I was a volunteer firefighter and EMT in the town. As volunteers once a year as a gesture of thanks more than anything else we received a modest check based on the amount of training we took part in as well as the amount of calls we responded too. Shelburne did not have an ambulance as a squad we would respond to calls in our personal cars while a professional ambulance core rolled a rig. I fail to see why a town like Thurman needs a 24hr staffed service They should have no problem getting by with volunteers responding to the scene while someone responds to pic up the rig.

wilderness_woods

I have read through most of the comments about this issue. I have thus come to the conclusion that the bottom line is, the call volume within the Town of Thurman does not support a 24/7 paid crew. I have been in emergency services for a while and have seen small towns make it with an all volunteer squad. Unfortunately politics run rampant in these organizations, force out good and dedicated members, and send a message that discourages others from getting involved. Plain and simple is the way Thurman EMS has run recently has been utterly unprofessional. The EMS is separate from a town. Thus their board runs their business and the town board runs the town business. Therefore the decline of this agency is not because of Ms. Wood and the town board, but because of the inconsistencies of the leadership within Thurman EMS. Neighboring squads can respond and cover Thurman with decent response times. The days of local EMS is quickly declining and a countywide response is needed to solve this.

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