New York, NY -- Currently, the 25 members of Herkimer County’s volunteer Schuyler Ambulance Inc. learn of and respond to an emergency by means of five pagers and two portable radios, all borrowed from the Schuyler Volunteer Fire Company. In addition, should dispatched members need to contact the county dispatch center or a hospital they must use personal cell phones or the single mobile radio phone in the ambulance, creating uneven reliability in their communications, as well as frequently interrupting patient care.
The Assistance to Firefighters Grant program, however, has awarded the ambulance company a grant of $10,328.00 to purchase 15 pagers and four portable radios to enhance the ambulance company’s communications.
The award’s announcement was made at here today at Region II of FEMA, which administers the AFG program, by Dale Mc Shine, Director of the region’s Grants Division. The local contribution to the grant was $543.00.
“The grant obviously adds a good deal to our communications efficiency, which has a direct impact on the health and well-being of our patients and we’re grateful for it,” said Anthony Pagliaro, the ambulance company’s Emergency Medical Services Director. He pointed out also that the new pagers and radios will be “P-25 compliant,” which means that they will use less bandwidth and put them in line with the FCC’s narrow-banding requirement, while increasing interoperability with other agencies.”
“It also strengthens the company’s self-sufficiency,” he was quick to add, “because this new equipment will be our own. Borrowing radios and pagers from our fire company makes us dependent and leaves them with no pagers or spare radios if one of theirs goes out of service.”
The primary operating area for the ambulance company is the town of Schuyler, which has a population of some 3,500. Mutual aid agreements extend to other townships and parts of Utica, in Oneida County, expanding the ambulance company’s total responsibility to a population to roughly 40,000. Schuyler Ambulance Inc. has been successfully recruiting new members, and has added ten new members with higher levels of medical proficiency, bringing the total to 25 volunteers.
“Solid communications are at the heart of emergency response,” FEMA’s McShine said, “and this grant highlights the AFG’s role in building and maintaining that capability.”
Mr. Pagliaro said that the new radios will be issued to the company Emergency Medical Services Director and the Assistant Director of Operations for their use. The other two radios will be kept inside the ambulance itself for use by the crew. The pagers will be given to the crew, most of whom will be able to take them home. “That will virtually eliminate the need to use personal cell phones on duty,” he added.
FEMA’s AFG program has been aiding firefighters and other first responders since 2001. “The program provides critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training, and other resources needed to protect the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards,” said Tania Hedlund, FEMA’s Grants Branch Chief. In 2012, the AFG provided funding of $25,340,000 for FEMA’s Region II (New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands).
For further information, please contact William H. Douglass at FEMA: 212-680-3665 or 917-561-3223.
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