Kingston, NY, May Seek SAFER Grant to Hire EMS Crews

April 11, 2024
The Kingston Fire Department has been handling all EMS calls since New Year's Day.

Apr. 10—KINGSTON, N.Y. — Mayor Steve Noble was poised Wednesday to request a recommendation from lawmakers to seek a $3 million grant to help fund the city's newly-created ambulance service.

Noble said Wednesday afternoon he would seek that recommendation to apply for a federal grant from the council's Audit and Finance Committee during a meeting that will also include his presentation of a consultant's report on details of a city-run ambulance service. The full council must agree before the grant can be sought.

"We have prepared a grant application that we plan to submit for the 2023 SAFER grant," Noble said in an email. "This is a Department of Homeland Security/FEMA grant. We have used these grants in the past to help support the hiring of additional staff in the Fire Department and we are now looking at this opportunity to help to fund the additional staff that we will need to fully implement our staffing plans for our newly launched ambulance program."

He said the funding will help to cover costs associated with the new staff over three years.

At 12:01 a.m. on New Year's Day, the Kingston Fire Department assumed all responsibility for providing all ambulance service within the municipality's borders, after Empress EMS said it would require the city to enter into a paid contract of between $500,000 and $1 million annually for what Robert Stuck, the executive director of Empress, has said would be an ambulance service dedicated solely to the city.

Meanwhile, an ambulance service study performed by a consultant has concluded that the city's current plan to operate its own emergency medical service is suitable.

The report found "that the current transition plan under use by Kingston, moving EMS ... from a private, contracted vendor to its municipal fire deportment, is adequate."

Further, the Cambridge report found that the initial use of advanced life support ambulances, placed centrally at the city's 19 East O'Reilly St. Fire Department headquarters, is a "good solution. "

"It should provide very reasonable service and mostly deliver necessary EMS appropriately," the report said. "Maturation of the Fire Department's EMS operations should allow for the honing of what assets are needed for optimal service, placement of those resources and how often they are scheduled for use," the report said. "This assessment can be done over time as volume and response to time data becomes available."

The Cambridge report also highlights an "EMS Transition Plan" for personnel, staffing and equipment matters.

Among them are:

—Staff both ambulances with personnel from the 53 sworn firefighters/EMTs employed by Kingston.

—Increase staffing throughout 2024 by 16 EMTs or paramedics from the fire department.

—Staff two advanced life support ambulances once sufficient paramedics are hired.

—Look to add a fourth ambulance for reserve or replace a current ambulance.

—Two advanced life support ambulances would be available around the clock.

—Staffing will consist of one paramedic and one EMT. Staffing on regular ambulances will be one EMT and one mental health clinician.

—If a fourth medical call is dispatched, and none of the three ambulances are available, Kingston Fire Department will request an ambulance under Ulster County's mutual aid plan.


(c)2024 Daily Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

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