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Twin City questioned about decision

A decision by Twin City Ambulance Services to discontinue its "fly car" service for Akron and Newstead is being questioned by the local volunteer fire companies, which brought their concerns to the Village and Town boards.

Akron Fire Chief Dan Kowalik told the Village Board on Monday that as of July 13 the fly car -- basically a paramedic vehicle backed up by an ambulance -- will be replaced by a new ambulance.

Kowalik, who with Newstead Fire Chief Scott Zitzka delivered the same news to the Newstead Town Board a week ago, asked if Village Attorney Daniel Shonn could consult with Town Attorney Nathan Neill to see if the change is a breach of Twin City's contract for emergency medical services.

Shonn noted that the contract with Twin City involves other communities as well -- including Amherst and Clarence -- so any change would have to apply to all signers of the contract.

Both fire companies have an ambulance, which is staffed by volunteers. But Kowalik said volunteer fire companies across the state are encountering difficulties with having volunteers trained as paramedics because it's a lengthy difficult process.

Also, he said, wait time at hospitals is a problem in recruiting volunteers for ambulance duty. It can take as long as three hours to transfer a patient into the hospital's care before the ambulance can leave, making it difficult to find people willing and/or able to commit to that length of time for an assignment.

Kowalik asked the board to talk with state elected officials to see what could be done to see that "paramedic volunteers can be out [on a hospital call] sooner."

There are also concerns about how much the Twin City ambulance service will cost the users and what reimbursement is available through Medicare and Medicaid. Kowalik said the ambulance, unlike the fly car, also will have a mileage fee added to the bill.

In other business, the board reassigned its contract for the wastewater and water treatment plants to Camden Group, the former VRI Environmental Services. Kenneth Scherrieble will remain as the company's Akron representative.

Scherrieble also reported that within the past six years, Akron's yearly cost for sludge hauling from the wastewater treatment plant has dropped by nearly two-thirds to $11,000.

Mayor Carl Patterson reported that the public works complex the village is building with the town should open between the middle and end of next month. A progress report is expected at a joint meeting with the Town Board on July 11 in Village Hall.

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