By Alana Burgess
By winning Emergency Medical Services Agency of the Year Award last weekend, Harpur’s Ferry gained recognition as the best ambulance service in New York State.
The award distinguishes the University’s student volunteer ambulance service from others in the state, both public and private, and calls attention to the growth in the quality and quantity of their service over the years, according to Benjamin Krakauer, the chief-executive director of Harpur’s Ferry.
“We’re at a point now where we get the first shot at the call, and 99.9 percent of the time we can cover it,” said Josh Parsons, the deputy director of Harpur’s Ferry.
Until 2002, the group had one ambulance and one flyer car to respond to the needs of the approximately 15,000 students and staff who are served by Harpur‘s Ferry, as well as residents of the Tri-Cities area served by the squad. As a result of a nearly $72,000 increase in their budget over the last three years, their resources have grown to the point where they have been awarded the highest honor that an EMS agency can receive in New York State.
“They’ve come so far in the past few years, and have truly become indispensable to the students and community of Binghamton University,” said David Belsky, the executive vice president of the Student Association, which has approved several referendums to increase the emergency squad’s budget since 2002.
After a budget increase three years ago, the agency was able to purchase another ambulance and upgrade technology, including a defibrillation device to detect and respond to heart attacks.
A further increase, which was approved by the student body during a referendum vote last spring, provided a new radio system, allowing them to communicate more effectively inside buildings. According to the S.A., the new equipment, which will be installed in two weeks, cost between $20,000 and $45,000, of which $25,000 came from donations.
“I would say that the increase in funding had more than a hand [in winning the award]. It was probably, second only to an amazing membership, the driving force behind our successes the last several years,” Krakauer said.
Next year, members of the ambulance service hope to get inhaled nitrous oxide to ease patient pain, as well as a John Deere Gator cart to be used as a stand-by on athletic fields and as access to emergencies in the nature preserve.
Krakauer attributes the award to their “high standard of care and amazingly active membership,” which is comprised entirely of about 140 volunteers — most of whom are Binghamton University students.
“The caliber and scope of the organization makes them an excellent service,” said Ray Serowik, the EMS coordinator for Broome County. “They are head and shoulders above other college organizations…and they are unique in our local EMS services because they are collegiate, but they offer the same level of care.”