Letter: Owego Emergency ‘Squad’ and LOSAP

On Feb. 5, 2024, the Owego Village Board listened to and deliberated on a presentation of a program entitled LOSAP (Length Of Service Awards Program). LOSAP is a program aimed at incentivizing and retaining volunteer emergency responders and providers that has been successfully utilized by many volunteer agencies in many municipalities and states.

The Village Board considered and weighed the viability and benefits of applying the LOSAP program to the Village’s Emergency Medical Services (OEMS) Department for both the VOLUNTEERS and the Village Taxpayers.

Did you know that the Village of Owego’s EMS, a.k.a. The Squad is a standalone dedicated Village Department, which means it is yours, the Village taxpayers’ and Village residents’ Emergency Medical Squad? 

But here is the kicker; regardless of what you may hear from some within the village, the volunteers that provide the personnel to operate the Owego Emergency Squad have never cost the Village taxpayer a penny, even when they were buried within the Fire Department. In fact, there were “ Bequeathed” funds that provided for the operations of the Owego Squad and ensured the Squad’s volunteers were not in the Village tax base, and that same bequeathment even paid the salaries of the two paid daytime Village AEMT_P providers, plus the contracts that were negotiated at that time with sister agencies for coverage of some of their areas even helped offset taxpayers’ funding of the Fire Department.

When it became clear the Sweet family bequeathment monies were running out there was a clamor from some in the Village, and some within or affiliated with the Fire Department, that the Squad needed to be split out of the Fire Department and made a standalone entity. The Squad’s volunteers and the then Village Board said fine and looked at the best way to do that. The Village Board wisely made the decision to establish “your” Village of Owego Emergency Medical Services Department.

So, with that brief history outline of how the Owego Village Board established “your” OEMS squad department that continues to not cost the taxpayer a penny for staffing personnel, or the purchasing and maintaining of EMS equipment and vehicles, and all due to its volunteers, lets shift our focus back to LOSAP.

On Feb. 5, 2024 the Village Board, after deliberation, voted (5) yea and (2) nay to place LOSAP referendum on the March 19, 2024 elections ballot. So now the ball is in our, the voters’ court to approve the referendum.

There are already some dominant voices out there using their various platforms within the village to campaign for us to vote no on the LOSAP referendum. Unfortunately, some of those voices are the same voices that wanted the “Squad” separated from the Fire Department; but now that “your” Owego Emergency Squad has proven that it cannot only standalone, but it can survive without costing the taxpayer a penny, those same voices are the first and loudest to grumble. 

Those voices would be humorous, perhaps entertaining, if they were not so threatening to “your” Owego Emergency Squad’s ability to continue attracting and retaining volunteers. 

Take time to look at the LOSAP program or contact the Mayor or the Owego Squad Captain. An informational website is being set up at https://owegoems.org/Documents/LOSAP/. Any of them will give you clear accurate input on the facts; that the Village Owego Emergency Medical Services Department has not cost the taxpayers any money, and have even relieved some of the other taxpayers’ burdens, and “the benefits to you, the voter, on voting yes on the LOSAP referendum on March 19, 2024.”

Only time will tell what would be the ramifications of voting no on the LOSAP referendum.

In the meantime, the Owego Emergency Squad volunteers continue to be your “Neighbors helping their Neighbors.”

Respectfully submitted,

Earl Hartman, Village Resident

OES/OFD/OFP Volunteer / Past Village Trustee

Be the first to comment on "Letter: Owego Emergency ‘Squad’ and LOSAP"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.