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Millbrook police propose working with EMTs

MILLBROOK — Tuesday, Sept. 13, at the Village Board meeting, Millbrook Officer in Charge Justin Scribner presented a proposal to the board on how the village of Millbrook and town of Washington could supplement emergency medical technician (EMT) and rescue squad coverage by utilizing police officers. Mayor Laura Hurley and Scribner have been meeting every couple of weeks to discuss different ideas. Hurley asked Scribner to make a rough presentation to the board to start the discussion.The Scribner proposal could potentially save the village and town money for EMT services as well as provide more police coverage. Scribner said that currently the annual police department budget is $85,255; the EMT squad budget is $25,000 per year; and the Transcare ambulance is budgeted for $155,480 annually. The total for all three services is $256,735, which provides 55 hours of police coverage every week for the town and village. The village pays $50,000 per year for the Transcare ambulance, which sits in the firehouse 12 hours a day, five days a week. The rescue squad averages one call per day, said Scribner.“The volunteer rescue squad is constantly seeking ways to recruit and retain volunteer EMS [emergency medical services] personnel,” said Scribner. “They are short staffed and would love to get more people in there.”Town and village residents may have to wait more than 30 minutes for a police response if the police are off duty, said Scribner. Residents may also have to wait an extended time for an ambulance on non-paid hours; Transcare will send an ambulance from Poughkeepsie.“I think a good plan would be to pay an EMT or rescue squad member to sit at the firehouse the same time you would have the Transcare car now,” Scribner said. “That way they could sign up for a paid shift, but at the same time they would have to sign up for a volunteer shift. So we are still getting volunteers out of them but they are also getting compensation for 12 hours a week for staying at the firehouse.”During the 12 hours whoever is on call would be responsible for making sure the ambulance is fully stocked and equipped. He/she would also work on Quality Insurance Quality Improvements (QAQI), which involves organizing past calls and making sure the paper work is correct. A police officer would be scheduled to work for that same 12-hour period, which is a 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. shift. Scribner said while the police officer is on duty, if an EMS call comes in the paid EMT would drive the ambulance to the scene of the call and the police officer would either meet the EMT at the firehouse or drive directly to the scene. At that point the police officer would assist the EMT with patient care. The EMT would then stay in the back with the patient as the police officer drives the ambulance to the hospital. By the end of the call the EMT and the officer would come back and pick up the police car where it had been left, then both the police officer and the EMT would resume their duties.“What you are getting is a full ambulance crew but they are actually producing something during that 12 hours of time,” said Scribner. “They are not just sitting there doing nothing. They actually have a police officer out patrolling, enforcing traffic laws, doing whatever they need to do until that EMS call comes in.”The police schedule would include two six-hour shifts to cover the ambulance duty and two six-hour shifts during the busy times of the day. Another full-time working position was proposed in order to organize and oversee the functions of two employees, which would include scheduling payroll and handling questions that may arise in the community. If an emergency occurs, there will then be someone on call at the firehouse, stressed Scribner.It was noted that the village police respond to a majority of the town of Washington calls. Hurley said for this plan to work the town would have to be on board with the new plan as well.Scribner gave a rough estimate for what the cost of this new plan would be for both the village and the town. Scribner said the cost of both the EMT and police officer salaries combined would be $129,000; that’s without the administrator. Equipment expenses would run around $51,280 per year. Together the new ambulance plan could potentially cost $180,313 per year, but if it is split equally between the village and town the cost per municipality would run $90,159. In terms of the revenue to fund the program, Scribner said that the average fine for a traffic violation is $100. On average, four tickets are given each day, creating a $400 daily income, which amounts to $146,000 a year. Scribner said the police department is a valuable source of revenue for the local government, because the municipality receives the majority of those fines while the state gets a surcharge. “If you split the startup cost, which includes $50,000 for equipment, uniforms, hiring and training, roughly,” said Scribner. “That pretty much is less than what the village is paying for both services, and the town pays less than that for the annual service, and they would also gain police coverage.”The board discussed where there could be potential problems or areas of the plan that need to be fleshed out in greater detail.“As a retired police officer I just want to say I am certainly not an advocate of any program that requires the writing up of … traffic tickets to fund that program,” said Edward Cox, board trustee. “I hold my integrity to the highest degree and I consider it a slap in the face to even bring up that subject. I am dead set against that.”Attorney for the village and town Rebecca Valk said she felt the intent was to get the average amount to see how much the revenue could potentially be. The board said it would continue to do research on the proposed plan in order to consider the next necessary steps.“This is our first conversation. I think it’s a refreshing idea that’s outside the box and I want to thank Officer Scribner for coming up with a proposal,” said Hurley. “And for giving us ideas on how to provide better health and safety to the community.”

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