Public Safety Committee Authorizes Sheriff-Pine Valley Fuel Agreement

Chautauqua County Sheriff Joseph Gerace speaks with the county public safety committee on Wednesday about a possible Pine Valley Central School District fuel agreement. P-J photo by Katrina Fuller

MAYVILLE — The new EMS fly-car system and a re-fueling option for the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office were discussed at Wednesday’s Legislative Public Safety Committee meeting on Wednesday night.

Sheriff Joe Gerace appeared before the committee to discuss a possible agreement with Pine Valley Central School District for the utilization of the district’s fuel depot for the Sheriff’s Office. Gerace said the situation would be beneficial for both parties, as the school district is interested in the presence of law enforcement officers nearby. Likewise, the Sheriff’s Office negotiated a tentative agreement with the district to purchase fuel for vehicles at New York State bid prices without any usage fees or service fees.

“It’s a win-win,” Gerace said.

Gerace said this type of setup is not unusual, as the Sheriff’s Office also uses depots at Chautauqua Lake, Frewsburg and Cassadaga central school districts, among others. This allows Sheriff’s vehicles to refuel in locations convenient to their whereabouts while on patrol.

Afterward, Mike Volpe, county senior paramedic, and Kevin Peebles, emergency medical services project coordinator, gave a brief update on the fly-car system, which is a series of four vehicles specially equipped to help during emergency medical events. The vehicles are equipped with cardiac monitors, pain medication and anticonvulsants medication as well as other items.

Peebles said at times, the response times of the fly-car systems can be quicker. So far, since the program began in August, the fly car system has been called 134 times and has been canceled 38 times.

“We’ve gotten good feedback from the volunteer fire departments we work with,” he said. “It’s working really well. It’s been a really big improvement to Advanced Life Support delivery in the county.”

Three full-time and six part-time paramedics operate three advanced life support vehicles, which are stationed in Ashville, Arkwright and Gerry.

In other news, the committee members approved that the 2017 budget should be amended to move a total of $40,000 into the Medical Examiners and Coroners Department appropriation account. The funds will come from funds that were left over due to an unfilled senior stenographer position, which will come from the personal services and employee benefits appropriation accounts.

After the meeting, Committee Chairman P.J. Wendel said the expenditures for the Medical and Health Services for the Medical Examiners and Coroners Department are expected to exceed the 2017 budgeted amount. The reason for the higher expenditures are due to the increase in number and, subsequently, the cost of autopsies and other such tests. He said the uptick in overdoses could account for some of that added cost. The fact that a person died from overdose has to be proved, Wendel said, which is why the tests are necessary.

The resolutions will now be voted on by the full legislature on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Gerace Office Building in Mayville.