Ogdensburg Rescue Squad asking for public support to continue providing services
BY JIMMY LAWTON
North Country This Week
OGDENSBURG – The Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad needs help now.
“We are humbly asking you to help us keep moving forward by donating as generously as possible to our 2021 fundraising appeal,” OVRS Director of Operations Ken Gardner said. “This year, we are asking you to donate as generously as possible, without any restrictions on the use of those donations. Rest assured that, as always, your donations will be spent to improve the level of patient care offered by the Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad and our EMS patient care providers.”Gardner said Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad is generally not supported through tax money, but rather from billing for services and the generous support of the community through donations.
The rescue squad responds to all calls for emergency medical service regardless of the ability of the patient to pay.
“No patient has ever been refused care, nor has any patient’s account been turned over to a collection agency for payment. The vast majority of our operating income comes from billing our patient’s insurance for care and transportation,” he said.
“Generally, we are only able to collect when patients are treated or transported to the hospital. Last year, due to the COVID pandemic, we saw a reduction by 283 calls for which we were reimbursed from the 2019 totals,” he said. “This resulted in a loss of approximately $135,000.00 of revenue. Fortunately, we were able to qualify for some CARES act, and PPP loan funding to offset a large portion of that loss.” But Gardner said the squad still had to withdraw funds from an endowment account to make emergency repairs to the roof of the building.
“The year also saw a reduction in hours donated by our volunteer staff which meant that there was an increase in payroll for paid staff to assure coverage for calls,” he said. “We, and every other ambulance service, experienced an increase in the cost of medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, personal protection equipment, and nearly every other operating expenses. All together, we ended the year 2020 with an operating deficit of $25,852.70.”
Gardner said not all of the news is grim, he said call numbers rebounded in the last half of 2020 and the first part of 2021.
“While revenues have also begun to return to normal, we are still in need of your help. Last year your donations were used to continue to pay for our members to attend EMT and Paramedic classes. Unfortunately, all of the local and state conferences and seminars fell victim to COVID and were cancelled.”
Gardner also offered appreciation to everyone who has helped the OVRS.
“This year, we must begin with a huge thank you for your amazing level of support during the past difficult year. We are extremely grateful for the support, both financial and moral, extended to us as we battle through the COVID pandemic. Even with the difficulties presented by the pandemic, your financial support for our annual appeal exceeded our expectations and surpassed the previous year’s totals,” he said.
During 2020 the squad responded to 2,361 calls with an average out of service time of 2.67 minutes for first calls, and 3.65 minutes overall.
The OVRS is the primary EMS provider for the City of Ogdensburg, Town of Oswegatchie, Village of Heuvelton, and Town of Depeyster. In addition, we provide Advanced Life Support, and mutual aid response for the Town of Lisbon, the Town and Village of Waddington, the Town and Village of Morristown, the Town and Village of Hammond, the Village of Rensselaer Falls, the Town of DeKalb, and the Town of Macomb.
Anyone interested in donation can do so by sending a check to the OVRS at 2021 Annual Appeal Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 172. Ogdensburg, NY 13669.