MAYVILLE, NY (WNY News Now) – Volunteer fire departments across Chautauqua County can now bill patients, and their insurance companies, for ambulance rides to the hospital.
On Wednesday, the Chautauqua County Legislature approved a resolution okaying the law change.
Before this, volunteer agencies, which make up the majority of first responders countywide, could only rely on fundraising efforts, or other allocated funding, to pay for operations.
Now, departments can charge up to $250 dollars per ambulance ride.
Legislator Dave Wilfong, who represents those in the City of Jamestown, was among lawmakers supporting the measure. In fact, Wilfong says he thinks more could be done to help first responders.
“I think there should be some kind of tax break for them, or some type of stipend on their income tax, or something like that,” said Wilfong. “I think we really need to start reaching out, because they really carry the large load of emergency services; around the lake, who’s always searching for people out in the woods, it’s the volunteer fire department.”
Some departments are holding off from charging for services for the time being. However, the lawmaker says they always have an option to opt-in to the program.