Ballston Spa Community Emergency Corps

Community Emergency Corps seeks budget increase

BALLSTON—Executive Director of the Community Emergency Corps, Ray Otten, spoke before the Town Board Tuesday to request an increase in the corps budget.

The increase would primarily be used to locate to a larger building, according to Otten, explaining size restraints before the board.

“We don’t have enough room for all of our emergency cars and we’re out of room to expand,” he said.

In a 2019 budget laid outby Otten, cuts will be made to make changing buildings an option while maintaining a zero percent increase in costs. While some costs have been limited by savvy purchasing on the corps part, such as purchasing supplies directly from large chain stores instead of targeted manufacturers, the bulk of the money being saved comes at the cost of salaries.

Supplementary manpower expenses are predicted to be cut by 38 percent, the Director’s salary by 31 percent, Deputy Chief’s by 17 percent, Chief of Operations by 28 percent and the Medical Director by 27 percent.

Even if these cuts are only temporary to afford the new building, a zero percent addition to the budget will be unsustainable in years ahead. Progress in lifesaving equipment means the Community Emergency Corps can save more lives—but at a heavier cost. The budget shows an increase in costs for cars despite other cuts.

“Advancements in medical technology make ambulance cars more expensive,” says Otten, “What used to be done in the first 30 minutes of the E.R., is now done in the back of these cars.”

As an example, Otten brought up the Lucas CPR device, a pricey piece of machinery that goes around the body and automatically performs CPR movements until a patient arrives at the emergency room. The machine has saved numerous lives, Otten says.

“And if it saves even one life, it pays for itself.”

Other rising costs include community outreach projects by the corps, such as Narcan training. Narcan is an opiate blocking medicine that can save the life of someone suffering from an overdose, an increasingly common occurrence due to the opioid crisis.

Otten also implies that more funding can save money, explaining that purchasing equipment instead of leasing it will serve as a long-term investment. He also credited a decrease in back injuries, and subsequent workers’ compensation cases, to the ambulance services purchase of a ramp for their cars.

The majority of the corps funding comes from Ballston and Milton. The current annual budget is $727,850. Ballston pays 24 percent of the tax levy and Milton pays 76 percent. The corps gets 2,400 to 2,500 emergency calls per year.

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Tomas Gomez is a freelance contributor at The Ballston Journal, a UAlbany alumni, & is allergic to fun thanks to a lifetime interest in sociology & political science.

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