Residents of the town of Hounsfield and village of Sackets Harbor depend on timely medical attention from the Sackets Harbor Fire Company when it becomes necessary.

In return, representatives with the agency rely upon members of the community to help them financially each year. The organization is made up of volunteers, and it receives no government funding. So the generosity of those who fall within its coverage area is essential.

“The Sackets Harbor Fire Company provides emergency medical care and ambulance service to all village and town residents free of charge. Dispatched to hundreds of calls a year, the Sackets Harbor ambulance serves the village, town and surrounding areas. Firefighters and emergency medical personnel are all volunteers. Comprised of 11 emergency medical technicians and a handful of emergency medical services students, as well as multiple firefighters and medical support personnel, the agency never charges patients for medical aid or transportation,” according to a story published Nov. 11 by the Watertown Daily Times. “The service, run through the Sackets Harbor Volunteer Fire Department, receives no funding from the town, village or Fire Department and no tax revenue is used to support the agency. The ongoing [novel coronavirus] pandemic has posed many new challenges for volunteer EMS, bringing a significant financial burden to the agency due to increased purchasing of personal protective equipment and decontamination supplies, as well as a significantly increased call volume.

“Providing EMS services to the village and town is not written into the Fire Department budget — it’s an added expense the department has just always taken on,” the article reported. “Guilfoyle Ambulance Service responds out of the city of Watertown. But sometimes, if Guilfoyle is unavailable, another ambulance can be 20 minutes away, so it’s important that the Sackets Harbor agency is fully prepared to take calls. Every emergency response comes with a cost to the agency. General operating costs for day-to-day functions such as emergency calls, training and purchasing and restocking equipment still exist during the pandemic, and the agency still has a duty to ensure that it has efficient medical equipment for patients. The service has already had about 230 calls this year. Last year, the department responded to 257 EMS calls. At the current rate, it expects to exceed that number this year, averaging around 20 to 30 calls a month.”

Like it has with other medical operations, the pandemic has increased the Sackets Harbor Fire Company’s overall costs. The organization also has had to buy new pieces of equipment necessary for it to continue doing its job.

“Obviously, we are still in a pandemic just like last year. And the price of equipment has completely skyrocketed,” EMS Coordinator Grayden J. Brunet said in the story. “The availability of equipment has also decreased, so it’s definitely a lot harder for a smaller agency that’s not contracted out with the village or town for any funding, like ourselves, to be able to afford the equipment that we need to safely provide care to our residents.”

The Sackets Harbor Fire Company has a fundraising campaign going on to ensure it has the money it needs next year. People may send donations to the Sackets Harbor Fire Co. Ambulance Fund at PO Box 171, Sackets Harbor, NY 13685.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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