Scott Moore has been with the Port Chester-Rye-Rye Brook EMS for 25 years, the last 20 as Administrator, and never faced a challenge he couldn’t meet until 2020.
“We thought we were recession-proof, but we discovered that we were not pandemic-proof,” he said in an interview this week. “With people quarantined and not going places, we had far fewer calls for service last year.” As Moore outlined to the City Council at their meeting this month, the EMS lost $500,000 in revenue in 2020 and he estimates it will be $300,000 in the red in 2021 as Covid-19 has not yet run its course.
While the local EMS has historically operated on a tight budget and been commended by the powers-that-be of the three communities it serves for being on budget, Moore said that staffing has long been an issue. “We’ve never been able to pay them a good wage — the current pay is $23 for paramedics, $15 for EMTs — or offer them benefits, which makes it difficult to keep them. And they only get nine days off a year.”
Moore said that when you compare the average day of one of his crew to that of a firefighter or police officer, “who makes a good salary, receive benefits, and is not constantly active, you can understand how hard it is to retain staff. I am truly grateful for the longtime staffers who have stayed the course and give them credit for sticking with the EMS.”
While he is pleased to report that the elected leaders of Rye, Port Chester, and Rye Brook are working with him on an increased funding plan, Moore says a long-term solution is a County EMS. “Shared services make sense and I’ve talked with County Executive George Latimer, who is interested in pursuing such a plan.”
- Robin Jovanovich