Amsterdam-based ambulance service the Greater Amsterdam Volunteer Ambulance Corps (GAVAC), is now responsible for responding to 911 calls coming from the area — once covered by the now closed Ambulance Service of Fulton County.
That agency shut down earlier this month, citing financial hardship. The changes in emergency response plans have pitted ambulance companies against each other in what appears to be a dispute over territory.
Effective Thursday, the GAVAC received emergency approval from the Department of Health for the decision.
GAVAC and JAVAC, the Johnstown Area Volunteer Ambulance Corps, are trying to co-exist in a field with an uncertain future. Emergency responders working for GAVAC are now being told JAVAC is a “direct competitor.”
In an email obtained by Spectrum News, GAVAC Executive Director Thomas Pasquarelli, said employees can no longer work for both. Although Pasquarelli says this is a longstanding policy, Spectrum News sources say as many as a dozen worked for both.
Another big issue is which agency is responsible for inter-facility patient transfers at Nathan Littauer Hospital in Gloversville. That contract is a very valuable one. JAVAC has been handling those over the last two weeks.
In another email shared with Spectrum News, Steven Santa Maria, Fulton County EMS coordinator, wrote to the state health department saying he wasn’t sure if JAVAC had the legal authority to do those inter-facility transfers.
He also wrote, in part, “Both JAVAC and GAVAC have expressed a concern that without the ability to have primary authority to conduct the inter-facility transfers, they may not financially be able to continue operations in Fulton County.”
Who has the right of first refusal for inter-facility transfers was expected to be discussed at a meeting Thursday, of the Adirondack-Appalachian Regional Medical Services Council. That group was also expected to discuss which parts of the area JAVAC is responsible for.
In a letter to the Fulton County Office of Emergency Management, the AARMCS said the operating territory for JVAC “needs clarification” because it is currently defined in a “confusing” manner.
The outcome of that meeting is still unclear, but a source at the meeting said it was "tense, confusing, and nothing was resolved."