BALLSTON SPA — The Community Emergency Corps outlined a rebalanced budget at the September Ballston Town Board meeting — one that included new $140,000 line item labeled “new building.”
The rebalance maintained a zero percent increase in the 2019 budget, Executive Director Ray Otten emphasized.
Otten says a new facility is overdue and a shift in call location makes now a good time to begin the process of planning for such a project.
“We are out of room where we are,” Otten said. “We can probably expand a little where we are, but because Milton is putting in a number of senior-only housing, Milton is where the call volume is going toward. We would rather be where we can serve the public better.”
The Corps would like to build new, Otten said, and has considered working with the same architects who are involved in the county emergency services building project. Locating a new building in the Milton area would improve call response times, Otten said. The Corps is looking to move the station north to the area around the Saratoga County Airport, across from the town center.
“The town of Milton is trying to get more businesses in there and trying to reinvigorate,” Otten said. Ideally, the Corps would like to locate next to the Rock City Falls firehouse. “We would have an emergency services complex,” Otten said.
The current location has had three renovations and still the Corps is struggling to house its life-saving equipment, supplies and office space.
“We currently have four ambulances,” Otten said. Four days a week, the Corps can often staff three ambulances. “You have to be there when the public need is there,” Otten said. Calls often happen in waves, Otten said, meaning one crew may be out when the next call comes in and multiple crews and vehicles are needed to respond.
But due to space constraints, one of the ambulances is kept at Rock City Falls firehouse. “If something happens, we have to run up there and swap everything out,” Otten said, referring to the type of equipment kept in the ambulance. “We have to get all the advanced life support gear into that one.”
In addition to the ambulances, the Corps also has three first response vehicles, some of these are used by the chief and assistant chief responding from their homes, and the other is kept in the Corps building.
“We need to have room for seven vehicles at any given time,” Otten said.
It’s not so simple as parking a vehicle outside or in any building, he explained further. “The building has to be temperature controlled,” he said. Certain medications can’t be above body temperature, or be too cold.
“A lot of this equipment is high-tech and you just can’t store it anywhere,” Otten said. “It has to be stored properly. In 1966 when we first had our building it was fine. Now it’s 50 years later and we have different needs.”
And it’s not just the vehicles that are proving difficult to store, Otten said. Supplies in general are spilling over. “Training supplies, uniforms, public outreach products, general equipment,” Otten said. Even backboards. If a hospital needs to keep a patient on one, the Corps needs backups in their building and must store them.
The Corps is in the early stages of looking at financing needs, as well as talking to local representatives about grants to help fund the building. “If you’re already a tax district, it’s tough to fundraise,” Otten said.
Otten said a lot of work goes into the budget process and maintaining the Corps finances year to year. “We’re a company that every year has an audit done,” he said. “Every year they have been excellent.” He said there are multiple checks and balances in place to ensure proper money handling. “It’s upfront and transparent.”
He expressed gratitude to the residents of the district. “We’re here for them,” he said. “Our first and foremost ideal is taking care of that patient. We don’t care if you’re behind the dumpster at Cumberland Farms or at a gala. We’re going to treat you with respect. That’s what we do. That’s our main purpose.”
The Community Emergency Corps has 40 medics and EMTs and five volunteers. For more information, visit the Corps website.
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