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2 N.Y. Communities Announce Shared Ambulance Pact

GREEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Ambulances from the Watervliet Fire Department will now rush to the aid of any of the 2,600 residents of Green Island.

The two communities announced a shared ambulance pact Thursday, which will bring in about $67,000 for the city of Watervliet as city emergency medical personnel respond to 911 calls in the neighboring riverside village.

"This is great for the quality of life and public safety of both of our communities," said Green Island Mayor Ellen McNulty-Ryan. "Our departments already train together and know each other. This is a great opportunity for the enhancement of our services and for the EMTs to expand their training."

Green Island, a coterminous town and village off the banks of the Hudson River, had previously used the independent Empire Ambulance Service.

McNulty-Ryan and Watervliet Mayor Michael Manning both said the service will not come at any additional cost to taxpayers. Insurance companies for those who require the emergency services will be billed, the Watervliet Fire Department said.

"This is a budget neutral item for us," McNulty-Ryan said.

But for Watervliet, the deal is a financial boost to a relatively new service taken on by the fire department more than two years ago. Patients -- either through their insurance companies or individually if they are uninsured -- are billed each time medical services are sought by calling 911. Manning said even though about 25 percent of the bills go unpaid, the city still makes a total of about $300,000 a year from providing ambulance services to its own residents.

Watervliet and Green Island have previously worked together to save money and provide services. An aerial ladder truck they jointly purchased is housed at the Watervliet Fire Department and emblazoned with both communities' names. The two communities run a joint bus service, too.

The Watervliet Fire Department has responded to 2,500 calls since its ambulance service began in 2009. A "Servicing Green Island" decal has been splashed above the driver's side wheelbase on each of the department's ambulances.



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