Niagara County’s ambulance service begins after long wait

LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) — After being approved in June 2022, Niagara County’s ambulance service is finally up and running.

County Chair Becky Wydysh made the announcement on Monday after the service took its first call the day before.

This service includes two ambulances, with rotating crews on 12-hour shifts every day of the week.

“We extensively reviewed our data on EMS calls and it came as no surprise that the toughest challenge for our volunteer companies is to respond to calls during the workday,” Niagara County Director of Emergency Services Jonathan Schultz said.

Wydysh says there’s been a declining number of volunteer firefighters in recent years, too, which she says is a problem across New York, resulting in longer response times.

Over the last month, the county has made a number of hires, including six EMTs, four paramedics, two supervisors and a division manager.

“We have already answered more than a dozen calls,” Schultz said.

Before this, a combination of career-based EMS personnel and private ambulance services had already been serving Niagara County, but it wasn’t enough. South Lockport Fire Company Chief Chris McClune previously commented on the high number of calls, saying “More and more often we are finding the commercial agencies aren’t available to back us up.”

This has put a strain on fire companies, who weren’t happy with the long wait to get Niagara County’s new service in motion.

Schultz says the new ambulance is being viewed as “supplemental” to the volunteer companies.

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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award, JANY Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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