Over the past five months, the continued support for the Marbletown First Aid Unit (MFAU) from this community has been amazing. This year’s fund drive for MFAU has reached $43,602, an all-time record. Senior members of SSIP 209 (Settled and Serving in Place) sent us their yearly $25 dues! So many community members and local businesses have been exceptionally generous in helping MFAU continue to serve, and we offer our heart-felt thanks.
At our Public Forum last October, MFAU announced that it had moved to a part-volunteer, part-paid staffing model. The transition to part-paid was a pivotal change. The concept is working! The number of EMS calls answered by MFAU sky-rocketed from 68% last summer to 100% for both April and May, 2020. Adding employees to the duty roster was the right thing to do.
Moving to a part-paid model was a leap of faith. While MFAU continues to look for sustainable sources of funding, we are dipping into its savings every month. Touching these funds was not an easy decision; our cash reserves represent countless hours of work by volunteers over decades of service.
The shift to hiring EMTs and drivers stems from the decline of volunteerism, which is well-documented, and was corroborated by our expert panelists at the October 2019 Forum. Spectrum News did a three-part series on the Hudson Valley EMS Volunteer Crisis last October. There are countless stories in the news of community ambulances services closing their doors for lack of volunteers and funding.
Although MFAU collects insurance reimbursements for ambulance transports, this is not enough to completely meet our budgetary needs. Under present funding conditions, without a long-term solution, we estimate that the part-paid model at MFAU can be maintained for about two more years. Together, we will find a solution.
The next time you that you see a blue shirt emblazoned with “Marbletown First Aid Unit,” please take a moment to say thank you. It takes a measure of courage to do this work, especially now during the pandemic. Never forget that MFAU is here for you.