Friction Created By Pending Ambulance Decision In Lancaster

11:41 PM, Jan 5, 2011   |    comments
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Lancaster Volunteer Ambulance

LANCASTER, NY - Like many municipalities the Town of Lancaster is trying to find ways to save money.

For many years it has annually subsidized the Lancaster Volunteer Ambulance Corps (LVAC) to the tune of roughly $100,000.

$45,000 had been going to pay a mortgage on the ambulance service headquarters on Embry Road, while approximately $60,000 has been contributed to pay disability insurance premiums for both the volunteers and paid professionals there.

Recently, Rural Metro Medical Services made a pitch to town leaders to become the town's primary responders, which would save town taxpayers the annual subsidy.

"There's no actual costs to the town when your working with a commercial ambulance provider. Our costs are re-imbursed from transporting patients," explained Jay Smith, Public Affairs Manager for Rural Metro's Buffalo region.

Members of LVAC, established in 1953, believe if the town chooses Rural Metro to provide the lion's share of coverage it could threaten the vitality of what is one of the oldest volunteer ambulance services in Western York.

"For us it's about serving our community...bottom line," said LVAC Operation's Manager Greg Jankiewicz

With the mortgage on their building having been paid off last year, LVAC is now proposing that it also start paying the insurance costs for its staff.

"There's grants available throughout the state system, ...we'll look at different avenues, different loans, different ways of managing our money," Jankiewicz said.

Jankiewicz says this would eliminate the taxpayer subsidy and level the playing field against Rural Metro...which he more or less describes as a for-profit corporation with shareholders to serve, and which --in his opinion-- engages in predatory practices to increase its customer base.

"They're sort of getting more aggressive than they used to be...and they're just looking for new avenues and greener pastures to come across," Jankiewicz told WGRZ-TV.

"That's not what we're about and it's not really a Rural Metro vs. LVAC conversation," countered Smith. "This is really about the Town of Lancaster going through a fair and equitable open bidding process to explore their opportunities and about the best service for their tax payers."

At a town board meeting Monday, board members extended LVAC's contract for one more month, until Feb. 8, in order to further negotiate and study the matter.

Lancaster Town Supervisor Robert Giza tells 2 On Your Side that in the end it's going to have to come down to a thoughtful decision, weighed by who can save the town the most money and still provide adequate, quality care.

Click on the video icon to watch the story from 2 On Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalist John Guinane.



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