By JAIME STUDD
Recorder News Staff
BROADALBIN -- Saying it wants to better serve the residents of Broadalbin and surrounding communities, the Broadalbin Volunteer Ambulance Corps announced this week its intention to hire paid staff.
A full crew consisting of one paramedic and one EMT will be available Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. through 6 p.m. beginning in January.
BVAC Captain Chris Georgia said the move is one he had been hoping to make for some time and comes chiefly in response to a growing lack of availability amongst the current volunteers during those hours.
"I've actually been working on it for a couple of years, but I didn't want to put anything out there until we started interviews," Georgia said. "People don't have the time to volunteer during the day like they used to and support our call volumes, so we're looking at trying to supplement our staffing with career staff during the day.
That call volume, Georgia said, has more than doubled since 2009, from 213 calls answered that year to more than 460 in 2011.
With that increase in volume, however, came a decrease in volunteer availability, Georgia said, resulting in more than 125 missed calls in 2010. Georgia said he stopped counting at 100 last year.
Georgia said the growing need to provide timely and quality care to residents in need is the impetus behind the effort to provide more consistent coverage.
"One of the driving forces behind our push to move forward is to be able to impact somebody's life in a positive manner," Georgia said.
Since the town of Broadalbin ceased funding the BVAC in 2010, a $12,000 annual loss, Georgia said the ambulance corps' operating costs are covered primarily through billing patients.
Funding for equipment upgrades and purchases is generated through annual fundraising efforts.
Though the more consistent coverage will allow for more calls to be answered, and therefore more revenue generated, Georgia said additional income played no role in BVAC's decision to hire staff.
"This is just going to be able to cover our costs. We're not making any money on this," Georgia said. "In fact, if we do, we'll hire more people."
In addition to ensuring more consistent coverage, Georgia said the increase in staff will allow the ambulance corps to provide a higher quality of care because lifesaving equipment that cannot currently be used because it is not consistently charged during the week can finally be put into service.
"This is what we owe the people who live here," Georgia said.
All tolled, Georgia said he expects to hire approximately 15 to 20 people whose various availabilities will ultimately result in complete coverage of the weekday shifts.
"We're looking to hire people working in higher call volume agencies that have experience and room in their schedules," Georgia said.
The Broadalbin Volunteer Ambulance Corps provides urgent medical care to an approximately 80-square-mile portion of Fulton County, serving all or portions of the towns of Broadalbin, Perth and Mayfield, as well as the village of Broadalbin.