OSWEGO, NY – At its meeting Monday night, the Common Council approved allowing the fire department to lease an ambulance for use during Harborfest.
During the public session, Zach Menter of Menter Ambulance weighed in on the Port City’s ambulance situation.
Menter’s is based out of Fulton and also has a station on West First Street in Oswego.
“We’re going to do, probably, about 10,000 calls this year,” he said. “Our primary response area is the city of Fulton, town of Schroeppel, village of Phoenix, village of Hannibal, towns of Volney, Granby, Oswego Town, and Scriba.”
They also do “a great deal” of mutual aid with other departments around the county, including the city of Oswego, he added.
“Patient care has to come first. Whatever the decision is, it has to be made between the city government and the fire department. I want to be a part of whatever plan that is,” he told the councilors. “I do not think our service is second to the city of Oswego. I do not think the city of Oswego is second to our service. I think we both provide excellent services.”
Minutes later, Jeff McCrobie’s request for the city of Oswego Fire Department to enter in to a six-day vehicle use agreement with North Eastern Rescue Vehicles at a rate of $1,000 was approved after a lengthy debate.
The ambulance is needed to help ensure the safety and well-being of the attendees of Harborfest as well as the residents of Oswego, the fire chief explained.
The lease of the vehicle will be reimbursed by Harborfest to the city, First Ward Councilor Fran Enwright noted.
“The only thing that isn’t going to be reimbursed is any overtime costs,” he added.
“Is this going to be overtime or straight time?” asked Fourth Ward Councilor Shawn Walker. “If this is going to be overtime, I’m not going to support this.”
“It will be overtime for the Harborfest ambulance to be in Breitbeck Park,” the chief replied.
A third ambulance is required for an event the magnitude of Harborfest, he explained.
Second Ward Councilor Mike Myers wondered if it was something Menter Ambulance could do.
“No one from Harborfest has contacted us,” Menter said.
“We’ve had up to six (ambulances), with city coverage and for Harborfest. I think that either working with Menter, they’ll be incorporating a plan not just inside the city but the territory around it, I think we need three, one stationed at Breitbeck,” McCrobie said. “It won’t be specific just for that, but we need it on site down there.”
Third Ward Councilor Mike Todd agreed the city needed have enough ambulance coverage for 300,000+ people at the festival.
“It’s a little late in the game to be trying to figure out how to do this,” he said.
“It seems like they’re making their emergency our problem,” Enwright said of the request. “It really shouldn’t be that way. There should have been more discussion and not just come up here and say, ‘by the way we need this and you are going to eat the overtime.’ I’m sorry, I just don’t work that way.”
The time to discuss all of this should have been when Harborfest first requested use of public space to hold the festival, Sixth Ward Councilor Eric VanBuren said.
“But, they didn’t,” Enwright said. “They sat back, did nothing and just assumed we’re going to pick up the tab.”
The resolution passed 5-2 with Enwright and Walker casting the no votes.