The East Hampton Village board has adopted a plan to reorganize the oversight of its ambulance over the objections of some volunteers who questioned the plan and the motives of its proponents.
The board unanimously approved on April 21 the creation of a Department of Emergency Medical Service (EMS), which will run the agency in place of the East Hampton Village Ambulance Association (EHVAA).
More than a quarter of the EHVAA’s 38 volunteer emergency medical technicians (EMTs) resigned in protest of the plan. Officials said they’ll backfill those positions with paid EMTs, as the village has already done for years to help volunteers.
The plan had sparked a rally outside East Hampton Village Hall and a public hearing that lasted hours in which East Hampton Village Mayor Jerry Larsen debated critics at length.
Rumors flew that the changes were intended to start charging patients for the service, which is currently provided free of charge, but Larsen insisted that there was no truth to that claim. The mayor said the reason for the change came down to the association’s membership being able to vote against the village’s requested policy changes for the agency.
The new ambulance department’s leadership would be appointed annually by and report to the village board. The EHVAA will continue on as a fraternal organization tasked with recruiting and training members, but the creation of the department undoes a half century of independent EMS operations in the community.