Senate passes ambulance bill

ALBANY, N.Y. (WKTV) - The City of Utica should soon be able to apply for permanent certification to run an ambulance service, but the Governor still needs to sign off on it.

State Senator Joe Griffo voted in favor of the ambulance bill, which passed with just hours remaining in the legislative session.

The proposal allows the City of Utica to apply for permanent certification to run an ambulance service. Since the Assembly also approved the measure, it now heads to the governor's desk for approval.

Currently, Utica has to re-apply for certification every two years. The ambulance bill takes decision making power away from REMSCO, the Regional EMS Council.

Utica's Fire Department is celebrating Wednesday night's action.

EMS Coordinator Mark Ambrose says there are 58 paramedics already on staff and that running an ambulance service is just one more duty they're willing and able to do.

"The current legislation is making it fairer for municipalities to start an ambulance service," Ambrose said. "We are not circumventing the ambulance process. We are not asking for any special privileges on this. We are doing all the training, staffing, equipment requirements."

Owners of Kunkel Ambulance Service, who is appealing a recent court ruling allowing the fire department to keep operating, offered no comment on the bill passing.

State Senator James Seward voted against this measure, saying it gave an unfair competitive edge to the municipalities.

The bill still needs to be signed by Governor Cuomo before it can become law.

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