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Springville, Concord officials irate over ambulance service decision

Agreements have been formed to allow Mercy Emergency Medical Services to keep providing ambulance service in the Village of Springville and Town of Concord.

The state Health Department issued a certificate of need Thursday to let Mercy EMS serve the village until the end of 2017. For the rest of the town, a court order issued Friday gives Mercy EMS the authority to operate until mid-February.

Concord Supervisor Gary Eppolito voiced relief that the matter has been settled for now. He expects to be back in court when the agreement expires.

“We will persevere and will not leave the town unprotected,” he said.

Hoping to reassure village residents, Mayor William Krebs stressed the village will continue to receive service from Mercy EMS. The certificate of need includes Bertrand Chaffee Hospital on Main Street in the village.

“We never lost service,” he said.

Ambulance service became a concern after the Wyoming-Erie Regional Emergency Medical Services Council denied a request from village and town officials for a certificate of need Wednesday night that would have let Mercy EMS continue operating in the municipalities.

Council members also ordered Mercy EMS to stop serving the town and village at noon Thursday and told officials to return to Rural/Metro Medical Services, the previous service provider.

Despite the ruling, the village continued with Mercy EMS after receiving the certificate of need from the state Health Department the next day.

Throughout the rest of the town, volunteer fire companies responded to calls until the order from State Supreme Court Justice John F. O’Donnell restored Mercy EMS.

The town and village had to pursue different avenues to rectify the problem because the village never had a certificate of need and the town’s certificate expired in 2004.

Eppolito and Krebs continued to criticize the regional council Friday.

“The sad part is I am outraged that an appointed board can usurp the duties of elected officials,” Eppolito said. “Only in New York State can something this ridiculous happen.”

In a written statement, a Rural/Metro manager emphasized the company wants to serve the town.

“We understand Concord’s concern with our availability to respond to 911 calls and have dedicated two fully staffed Advance Life Support ambulances to provide service in the area,” said Jay Smith, Western New York division general manager.

“We would welcome the opportunity to work with (town) and fire department leaders to address their concerns.”

Dispatchers have been instructed to call Mercy EMS ambulances, not Rural/Metro, Krebs said.

Rural/Metro maintains its contract with the town and is only required to provide service when available, Eppolito said.

As a nonprofit organization, Mercy EMS conducts fundraisers and does not bill municipalities. Rural/Metro requires payment.

The village and town boards switched from Rural/Metro to Mercy EMS in late September after Rural/Metro’s availability dropped to 35 percent.

Mercy EMS offered 96 percent availability in October and 100 percent availability since then.