Future of EMS in Webster uncertain
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – On Thursday night, taxpayers in Webster will get a chance to hear about the town’s future options for EMS coverage.
Currently, Northeast Quadrant Advanced Life Support serves most of the town but is running into serious financial issues that will require additional taxpayer contributions. NEQALS leadership is requesting an EMS/Ambulance tax district be established in the Town, and that its initial funding from taxpayers be approximately $800,000 annually.
The Town of Webster Board will host a workshop on May 25, 2023 to present short and long-term options that could be pursued for EMS/Ambulance coverage and plans to make a final decision by June 30, 2023.
Two of NEQALS ambulances were recently taken out of service following a random inspection by New York State that found dozens of outdated supplies and medications, rusted out frames and dirt and grime throughout the units.
The inspections happened on April 24 in the parking lot of Rochester General Hospital. NEQALS crews had just unloaded patients from two different rigs when their ambulances were chosen for the spot inspections.
According to inspection records obtained by News10NBC, on one of ambulances, an inspector found 18 expired items and on the other there were “greater than 30 expired items including medications, airway equipment, needles and IV catheters.”
Both units were also rusted out so badly that portions of the door frames were missing which compromised their structural integrity. Among other violations, both ambulances were also found unattended, unsecured, and running with free access to the medications and needles inside.
Ahmed Mustafa, CEO, Northeast Quadrant Advanced Life Support: “Some of the things that were found outdated were alcohol swabs, right? I mean, it’s not going to impact the patient care. There were some things we should pay attention to. Locking the ambulances at RGH is an important thing for safety and security, making sure that our medicines are all up to par, there are some things that our staff will learn from but for the most part we treat all of our patients very professionally and properly all the time.”
Jennifer Lewke, News10NBC: “Why weren’t those vehicles in great condition?”
Ahmed Mustafa: “Well, as we’ve told everyone for several years now, including our town, we are running an EMS agency on a shoestring budget. We’re the last major agency in Monroe County that does not get any significant community funding. And when your focus has to be on keeping people paid and the agency running, you stretch things as far as you can. In this case, with these two ambulances, maybe we stretched things a little too far.”
Jennifer Lewke: “Why do you think it is better to support your EMS agency then for you to merge in or be taken over by someone else?”
Ahmed Mustafa: “So, we are the agency the Town of Webster created. Right, we have been very closely tied with them, we work very well with them, or we have in the past and I hope we will in the future. The belief that some other agency will take over, we’re all running lean. Now you’re taking the risk of taking an agency that took almost 5k calls last year, away from a system that is already stressed and hoping that somebody else can come pick it up and I think that’s a dangerous gamble to play right now.”
The meeting is being held at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday in the Town Board room at the Van Ingen courthouse.