EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES & AMBULANCE SERVICE
Guilderland Emergency Medical Services (GEMS) remodeled its organization and fundamentally changed the EMS system design in 2018. By all accounts 2018 was a seminal year for GEMS and the town EMS system at large which saw a momentous transformation from an Advanced Life Support First Response (ALSFR) agency, to a fully developed Ambulance Service. The expansion followed notification to the Town that the Western Turnpike Rescue Squad (WTRS) was to cease operations by the end of 2018. The notice required a new formation, acquisition and integration of emergency medical technician (EMT) positions, ambulances, two buildings (Station 1 and Station 2) and the entire infrastructure necessary to support the existing ALSFR, as well as, the newly acquired ambulance component. The additional responsibility of providing ambulance and transportation service to the community presented GEMS with an opportunity to make the town EMS system more responsive, efficient and economical. This was accomplished by transforming the existing two tiered response model, which required the deployment of both Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Life Support (ALS) vehicles, to a single tier that would deploy one ALS ambulance staffed with an EMT and a paramedic. The new deployment model also reduced public safety risk and improved System Status Management (SSM). SSM improved the quality of life for the residents, business owners and commuting traffic by having only one unit responding lights and sirens to emergencies.
On July 3rd, 2018 the NYS Department of Health issued the Town of Guilderland ambulance operating authority in the form of a Municipal Certificate of Need (CON). On July 16th, the Town began operating one ambulance to fill an identified need. This specially equipped ambulance (5680) filled a dual role, one of bariatric capability, as well as, coverage to the zone two corridors (Carman Road area); this resulted in a reduction in response times from approximately 13 minutes to 6 minutes for that area. On December 1st, 2018 GEMS added two additional ALS ambulances to the system and assumed full responsibility for the entire service area previously covered by WTRS. The Altamont Rescue Squad still provided BLS coverage to their service area which is the West side of town and includes the Village of Altamont. In addition to the town of Guilderland, the Guilderland Paramedics are the primary ALS responders to the Village of Altamont, Town of Knox, a portion of the SUNY Albany Campus, as well as a stretch of the NYS Thruway. Over the course of the year GEMS responded to over 5,600 emergencies ranging from sick and injured patients to firefighter and police officer support. Every patient requiring prehospital emergency medical care in the town was evaluated by a paramedic. After initial assessment the patient was transported by a town ambulance under the care of either an EMT or paramedic depending on the condition of the patient.
By the end of 2018, EMS in the town of Guilderland had fundamentally changed in constitution, construction and composition. This enormous effort was only achieved through a whole team approach and with the visionary guidance of key officials and personnel. While doing a series on the state of EMS in New York, Channel 13 News featured GEMS as the solution to the complex issues that many municipalities across the state are facing in the delivery of emergency medical services. The Guilderland EMS system is now admired by many for its unification of services.
The Guilderland EMS Community Outreach Program provides educational events to reach out to the children in the community. The goal of the Community Outreach Program is to educate the public about the Emergency Services provided in the town and to teach school aged children the importance of 911.
The Outreach Program has attended The Guilderland National Night Out, Tawasentha Park Summer Camp and Guilderland Elementary School events to promote healthy tips and information. At these events, children are provided valuable information in the form of coloring books to help educate them on the importance of dialing 911 for an emergency and useful information is provided to parents and the public on the Emergency Services provided by the town. The program also allows Paramedics to provide information on public health concerns such as flu vaccines, proper hand washing and pool safety.
In addition to public events, the community outreach program provides training and support to the local Fire, Police and community organizations such as the annual Pine Bush Little League meeting where medics instruct coaches and parents on the location and use of Public Access Defibrillation and the importance of contacting 911 with the proper information needed in an emergency.