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N.Y. town agrees to chip in for cycling paramedics

AURORA, N.Y. The Town of Aurora's July 3 fireworks celebration will have paramedics available on bicycles as an extra safety measure, after all.

Early political fireworks broke out last week after village officials thought the town would split the $500 cost for the bicycling paramedics hired through Rural/Metro, only to learn that town officials had decided it would cost too much money and felt it wasn't necessary.

The issue ignited controversy for the event that has drawn more than 10,000 people from East Aurora and neighboring communities. Several residents contacted village officials about the matter.

Bill Oar was one of them. He gave a $250 check last week to Mayor David DiPietro to cover the remainder of the tab, since the Village Board is prepared to pay $250.

"Where's the public safety and common sense?" Oar said Tuesday. "I think it's gotten to a point where it's too heated and too foolish. I was taken aback that $250 would break them [the town] to spend for public safety."

But as it turns out, the Town Board late Monday reversed itself and voted to pay the $250 the village had sought from the town to cover half the expense. In turn, the village will return Oar's personal check to him, but Oar said he will donate that money to the community's fireworks fund.

"It's a no-brainer. It's a minor expense," Town Councilman Jeffrey Harris said of the decision, adding he still doubted whether the paramedic bike team could negotiate crowds that night in the park.

During a Village Board work session earlier Monday, DiPietro appeared visibly angry at the town for not agreeing to spend the $250 last week, noting that the village was making additional accommodations to respond to the concerns of town officials.

"We are going to go through with this, even if the town doesn't want to pay for half of it," DiPietro said.

Last week, three councilmen told The Buffalo News they didn't feel the additional expense for a two-man team of cycling paramedics was necessary, and they also questioned how they would be able to maneuver through such a large crowd.

This week, Councilman Dwight Krieger said he still questioned how the bikes could work through such a crowd but said the board decided it was OK to approve the $250 expense to help pay for the additional medical coverage.

Paramedic bike teams are new for the event, though Village Trustee Keith Bender pointed out that village police also have used their bike patrol at the fireworks in previous years with no problem. The paramedic bikes are equipped with first response advanced life support equipment, oxygen, a defibrillator and advanced airway equipment.

Rural/Metro had agreed to donate a standby ambulance for Hamlin Park at no cost, so Bender said he didn't see the $500 bike paramedic bill to be a big issue. Bender works for Rural/Metro and abstained from all voting tied to the proposal.

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