MASSENA — Massena Town Council members have agreed to advertise for a second paid basic emergency medical technician for the Massena Rescue Squad because of staffing shortages and work schedules.
The individual’s hours would be from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week, on a trial basis for three months initially.
Council member Thomas C. Miller, a town liaison to the rescue squad, said the rescue squad is seeing an increase in the number of calls during the day.
“The calls have become the norm. There’s difficulties in getting a second rig out of the barn. At times they’re having trouble getting drivers to drive the rigs,” he told board members during Wednesday’s meeting.
In addition, “it’s been very difficult to get other ambulances to come in,” Town Supervisor Steven D. O’Shaughnessy said.
The rescue squad is manned primarily by volunteers from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. The building is manned 24 hours a day with the help of E5 Support Services, who are there from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mr. Miller said their contract with E5 states they will have one EMS to cover from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., but there’s now a need for another person.
He said the squad’s Board of Managers had discussed the situation in detail and would like to hire a person who would initially serve from Oct. 1 to the end of the year. Then the board would evaluate to see if it would continue with the second individual.
“We would like to try a three-month trial and see if we can improve our numbers,” he said.
Mr. Miller noted that, if a second rig went out, some of the cost could be covered by resource recovery money that’s paid to them by insurance companies for providing the service.
Board members also approved an increase in fees charged by the rescue squad. Council member Melanie Cunningham, who also serves as town liaison to the rescue squad, said the squad had not increased fees since 2015.
“This wasn’t a spur of the moment thing. This has been researched through our billing company and researched through E5. We have done our best to keep them low in Massena. But for the ever-changing cost of providing this service, it’s a necessity. I feel it’s important we increase those,” Mr. Miller said.
Board members had been provided with a proposed fee schedule, but the amount of increase was not discussed during Wednesday’s meeting.
“We’re still lower than a lot of places and still providing services that are needed in Massena,” Mrs. Cunningham said.