Weekly Feature

2016-03-23 / Editorial

Tonawanda’s paramedic unit is one of a kind

While some municipalities require paramedics to be either firefighters or police officers, the Town of Tonawanda uses a system that is staffed by career paramedics.

At the State of the Town Address, Tonawanda Supervisor Joseph Emminger couldn’t mention public safety without including the town’s award-winning paramedic unit.

Whether a paramedic has visited a person’s residence or the home of a friend or relative, he noted that most people have or know someone that has had an encounter with the paramedic unit.

The employees have become an integral part of the community throughout the years and are even rooted in the town’s history.

“The paramedics celebrated their 40th anniversary this past August. And the unit was named the EMS Agency of the Year by the Western Regional EMS Agency,” Emminger said at the address. “I would like to remind people that we are one of only a few townships in all of Upstate New York with paid paramedics.”

The unit has been continuously praised for its ability to respond with quickness and professionalism. As the unit serves community members with diligence, its duties shouldn’t go unnoticed.

“They are large part of who we are as a community and who could imagine our town today without their services,” Emminger said.

In 1974, the Town Paramedic Unit was conceived and developed under the guidance of James V. Ryan, town supervisor; Joseph Takats, medical director; and Norman Stocker, labor relations director.

After completing training, the newly-hired nine full-time and three alternate paramedic trainees went into service in August 1975. The staff then started to provide basic and advanced first aid to the citizens in the town and Village of Kenmore. In their first year of service, the paramedics responded to 1,705 requests for first aid.

Now based out of police headquarters on Sheridan Drive, the paramedics respond to a wide variety of calls for service from simple falls to more complex medical calls and multiple traumas.

According to the town’s website, the emergency medical service unit responded to 7,640 calls for service in the Town of Tonawanda and Village of Kenmore in 2014.

The professionals that make up the paramedic unit have committed themselves to the delivery and improvement of advanced pre-hospital emergency medical care since the beginning of their existence.

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