Ambulance services consolidated due to volunteer shortage

Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 5:14 PM EDT
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TOWN OF CAPE VINCENT, New York (WWNY) - Ask any EMS captain and they’ll tell you: it’s tough finding volunteers. It has caused the towns of Lyme and Cape Vincent to consolidate their ambulance services.

In the town of Lyme, there are two fire departments, one ambulance and not enough volunteers.

“Right now, our volunteers are on scene 25 to 30 minutes before we get an ambulance from Watertown. Sometimes it’s longer,” said Heather Lipczynski, EMS captain, Chaumont Fire Department.

Because of a lack of volunteers, the town needed help.

“It’s extremely difficult to get EMTs and volunteers right now. I mean, it’s demanding, the hours to keep your certifications just to become an EMT is very demanding,” said Lipczynski.

“In January, the Three Mile Bay Fire Department voted to reduce its ambulance services from basic life support to first responder. That means EMTs still responded to calls to provide care, but another ambulance service had to be called to transport them to the hospital.

Now the town of Lyme will get the help it needs from its neighbors in Cape Vincent, which will be expanding its services to Lyme.

“I think overall, being able to draw donations from two townships is going to help them have more money to work with and offer more services,” said Jeffrey Call, chief of operations, Cape Vincent Ambulance Squad.

The Three Mile Bay Fire Department will be donating its sole ambulance to the Cape Vincent Ambulance Squad, giving Cape Vincent two ambulances. With paid staff on call 24/7, that should make for quicker response times from Cape Vincent.

“Versus our volunteers coming from our homes, to the station, getting our vehicles on the road, to the scene,” said Lipczynski.

Call says the process of consolidation will take about two months to complete, but in the meantime, Cape Vincent Ambulance Squad, Three Mile Bay Ambulance Squad, and Guilfoyle will be providing services to the town of Lyme.

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