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Volunteer ambulance service will continue in the Village of Alden, even if the Town of Alden decides against contracting with Rural Metro, Mayor Michael Retzlaff said Monday night.

"At this point the village has full intentions of remaining in the ambulance business," Retzlaff said. "And if the town is willing to sit down and talk about it, there are options out there short of going to paid service."

Currently, emergency response for the town is split evenly between the village and Millgrove Fire Company. Last week, after Millgrove announced it will not renew its contract for 1999, Alden Town Supervisor Richard Savage said the town is weighing alternatives, including an agreement with Rural Metro to take over the full service.

Although village and Alden fire company officials say they feel a volunteer service is better, they will meet with Rural Metro representatives Monday to compare costs and services. Savage also has been invited to the session.

Fire Chief Larry Sitzman said he favors a volunteer ambulance corps, which would be a legal restructuring of the volunteer service already in place, allowing the company to bill for services. Fire and village officials began studying the idea about six months ago when they were warned Millgrove was backing out.

Sitzman has looked at other volunteer corps, such as Lancaster and Eden, and decided the best option is one where only insured individuals are billed, guaranteeing no one pays out of pocket.

This plan would protect senior citizens, who often are uninsured, while still allowing the village to recoup some costs and keep the cost to taxpayers low, he said. Village officials currently are working on a proposal for a volunteer corps plan that could be in place within the next year.

Regardless of the final structure of the service, officials also said the Alden Ambulance Service will increase its level of response to "advanced life support." With the exception of administering medications, the additional training and certification will enable emergency medical technicians to give most care currently provided by Rural Metro paramedics, including advanced respiratory therapy.

"No matter what happens," Retzlaff said. "The Village of Alden will maintain service for the village."

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