First, I want to extend my sincere condolences to Dr. Charles Hummel, Director of District 4 and his family on sister. Due to one of the many snow events we have had this winter, I was unable to attend the services. Speaking of snow events, I hope that everyone has survived the winter. Looking at the calendar, spring has arrived. I hope the calendar is right. Enough is enough!
Pulse Check 2013 was a huge success. I want to thank everyone who worked on the conference and to all who attended. A special thank you goes out to Mike McEvoy and Rich Beebe for all their work in coordinating the seminars. They assembled a cadre of speakers that are second to none. Once again this year, Pulse Check 2014 will be held at the Crowne Plaza in Suffern NY September 11-14, 2014. Teri Hamilton and her committee are working extremely hard to make this the best conference ever. Please visit our website, www.nysvara.org for all the latest information.
At the end of November, I attended the Annual Board of Directors meeting of the North Central EMS Cooperative (NCEMSC) in Las Vegas (at the expense of NCEMSC). It provided me the opportunity to meet with the other members from around the country. NCEMSC is doing extremely well. I cannot overemphasize the value that the CO-OP provides to both our members and the Association. I urge all our members to visit the website for the goods and services that they offer. They offer tremendous values on everything from medical equipment and supplies to ambulances. Membership is free to our member services. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Executive Vice President Henry Ehrhardt at email@example.com or myself. I want to encourage all our members to go to the web site and take a look at all the member benefits NYSVARA has to offer.
NAEMT is sponsoring EMS Day on the Hill will be held in Washington DC March 25 and 26 2014. I, along with Henry Ehrhardt, Steve Dziura and Teri Hamilton will be traveling to Washington. It provides us the opportunity to meet with our representatives in Washington to discuss issues both on the national level and the important issues we face in New York. It is extremely important that our Association be represented in Washington.
On the legislative front, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that the revisions to PHL Article 30 are not included in the proposed Governor's Budget as it has been for the past 2 years. The bad news is that very recently, a8617 and s6515 have been introduced in the Legislature. These bills will permit any municipality, which includes fire districts, to obtain a Certificate to Operate as long as they demonstrate that they have the vehicles, equipment and personnel to operate. Unlike the rest of the EMS community, should this legislation pass, there will no longer be a requirement to demonstrate NEED. It will become a certificate of WANT. The effects on the EMS system will be catastrophic. Imagine that your volunteer service has been serving your community well for many, many years and, one day, for whatever reason, the fire district in your community decides that it wishes to begin delivering EMS. All they need to do is fill out paperwork and acquire equipment and find a few EMTs and they would be able to go into service. As is the case in many areas of the state, dispatch is controlled by fire. Where would that leave the volunteer ambulance service and those who volunteer? If the service no longer receives calls, the doors close. What happens if in a year or two or three, the fire district decides it can't or doesn't want to continue to provide EMS? Where does that leave the residents of your community? The volunteer ambulance service is long gone. The EMS System in New York State does not need more ambulances. Provisions already exist in the law that if an emergency situation occurs that a municipality, through no fault of their own, is faced with no EMS coverage, they can quickly apply, and receive a Certificate to Operate. There is a Need! We don't need to fix something that isn't broken. We have joined with our colleagues from the United New York Ambulance Network (UNYAN) to strongly oppose this proposed legislation. Recently we have made several trips to Albany to speak with our elected officials to educate them as to why this is bad public policy and the effect on our system. I am asking that our members contact their state elected officials and tell them that this legislation has the possibility of being the Death Nell for volunteer and not-for-profit EMS in New York. If we can answer any questions or provide you with any additional information, please don't hesitate to contact either Vice President and Director of Legislative Affairs Steve Dziura at firstname.lastname@example.org or myself at email@example.com.
On the subject of Legislative Affairs, we will hold our annual Legislative Day on Monday May 5, 2014 in Albany. This is an opportunity to meet with our elected officials to discuss the issues that affect volunteer and not-for profit EMS in New York. We need your help. Please join us. We will make appointments with your representatives if you wish and provide you with all the information you need. This is a critical time for us. Please contact either Steve or myself if you will be able to attend. I hope you can join us.
Lastly, Mark your calendar! The EMS Memorial will be held Tuesday May 20, 2014 at 11:00am on the Plaza in Albany. This year, sadly, I believe 12 names will be added to leaves on the Tree of Life. As always, it is an opportunity to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their communities. It truly is a moving ceremony. Please make every effort to attend and I hope to see you there.
I want to thank you for your support. If you or someone you know is interested in helping us with our mission or interested in learning more about our association, please do not hesitate to contact me. NYSVARA is the voice of volunteer and not-for-profit EMS in New York State.
Michael J. Mastrianni, Jr.