The Central New Your Regional Emergency Medical Services Council (CNYEMS) has selected Southern Cayuga Instant Aid, Inc. (SCIA) for the “EMS Agency of the Year” Award for the Central New York Region. SCIA was presented with the award at the CNYEMS Awards Ceremony on May 22, 2018 at AMR – Syracuse. Thanks to The Citizen for featuring SCIA in this article.
‘On the right trend’: Southern Cayuga ambulance receives regional EMS award
Southern Cayuga Instant Aid Ambulance in Poplar Ridge received the CNY EMS Agency award for 50 years of service. From left, Joseph Doeing, Gregory Grant, Wendy Hoose, Lela Burroughs, George Walborn, Paul Redmond and Brandon Fairbanks.
photo by Kevin Rivoli, The Citizen
About five years ago, Southern Cayuga Instant Aid, Inc. Ambulance was on the verge of going out of service.
A transformation took place, however, and SCIA was honored with Central New York’s Emergency Medical Services Agency award at the Regional Emergency Management Service Council’s annual awards banquet last Tuesday during EMS week. SCIA will be celebrating its 50th anniversary later this year.
Wendy Hoose said that her whole life, especially when she was told she couldn’t do something due to lack of training, she’s been pushing the envelope to pursue whatever “next level” was in front of her. She views her role serving as SCIA’s executive director and chief of operations in the same way.
“You’re only as good as your last call,” Hoose said, adding that perspective has helped SCIA “do a phenomenal turn around.”
Back in 2014, SCIA was missing a lot of calls and only covering about 60 percent of the region’s advance life support needs. Hoose said some calls were even cancelled on scene because another agency would already be transporting the person in need.
“We have changed everything around so we get out much faster and we have ALS,” Hoose said. Because ALS services are “very limited” in rural communities, Hoose said, the CNY REMSCO said that it was clear SCIA was the agency that should receive the EMS Agency award this year.
SCIA has been operating 24 hours a day every day of the year since fall of 2016 and always has someone certified to offer ALS available for calls. The agency is also adding three more local ALS certified staff and volunteers to the organization soon.
When Hoose first came to the organization five years ago she noticed that most of the ALS providers were not local.
“One of my thoughts was really to have an ambulance that serves the Southern Cayuga community, we need people from the Southern Cayuga community,” Hoose said. Soon the agency will have four local ALS providers.
“So we’re on the right trend. Which is one of the reasons why, I think, we were recognized is because having ALS in a local one-ambulance rig situation is actually getting rare,” Hoose said. “A lot of the crew is actually from the local community and that gives it a personal touch.”
New York state is losing three or four ambulance agencies every year, Hoose said, and a large number of ambulance services only offer basic life support services which means they have about one-third the training of an ALS person and they can’t intubate, start IVs or administer medications.
Since October, SCIA — with a combination of paid and volunteer staff — has not missed a primary call in its district and was able to cover 96 percent of its calls with in-house ALS providers.
Currently, SCIA is a paramedic level ambulance that primarily serves Genoa, Scipio, Venice and portions of Ledyard. Hoose said the main service provided is emergency transports, and even though the ambulance gets called about once a day, they average 240 hospital transports in a year. While most ambulances have a five or 10-minute transport time to a hospital, Hoose explained that SCIA’s current average transport time is 36 minutes due to its rural location, which is one reason ALS is so important to their agency.
About 70 percent of SCIA’s patients go to Auburn’s or Ithaca’s hospitals, while the other 30 percent to to Syracuse’s Upstate University Hospital. Occasionally, a patient will be transported to Cortland Memorial Hospital.
When SCIA was birthed nearly 50 years ago in 1968, in response to a news article that explained how many people were dying due to not getting to emergency rooms fast enough, Hoose explained, the organization was actually known as the Poplar Ridge ambulance since it sprung out of the municipality’s fire department.
Then, in the 1990s, a disagreement with the Poplar Ridge fire department caused a split which resulted in the formation of SCIA.
“But we’re friendly with them now,” Hoose laughed, adding that Poplar Ridge actually submitted a supporting nomination for the agency to receive the regional EMS Award this year.
Since the beginning, Hoose guessed that SCIA is on its seventh ambulance, describing the agency’s current rig as “a Frankenstein.” She said the rig’s chassis was destroyed in a “traumatic” accident on a call last year, so now SCIA’s ambulance has a 2017 chassis but the main box is still from 2014.
As an organization, Hoose said SCIA also offers annual learning opportunities on health-related practices to staff and is also in the process getting certified to offer in-house recertification for EMT or ALS providers.
“You always have to strive to maintain your skills because everybody is counting on you to do your best for them and they deserve it,” Hoose said.
Hoose also stressed that SCIA is there to serve the community and implored people: “do not wait until the last minute … for anything, if you’re just not feeling right, especially if you’re alone, just give us a call and we can check you out.”
Website editor’s note– The following SCIA responding EMS personnel are not shown in the photo: Jacob Coalson, Amy Pauldine, Brian Hamill, Thomas Cooper, Ian Herford, Missy Rice and Rob Ryan. Additional board members include: Jay Clark, Rebecca Davis, Guy Garnsey, Dana Mandel, Jonathan Orkin, Andy Simkin, Paul Simkin.