In much of America, if you call an ambulance, you get a bill afterwards.
But in rural New York state, where a lot of emergency services are bundled in with fire departments, that often doesn’t happen. Volunteer fire departments haven’t been allowed to charge for ambulance service. But that means they’ve had to eat the cost.
A new bill, passed along with the NY State budget this summer, changes that. It’s called the EMS Cost Recovery Act and was sponsored by Assemblyman Billy Jones. A version of this legislation has been in the works for decades, and many local fire departments are breathing a sigh of relief. In New York, fire departments provide EMS coverage to nearly half of the state.
You’ll find about 180 fire departments across the North Country. The vast majority of them are volunteer — people from the community get trained and fight fires in their community.