Lake Shore Hospital closing causes strain on volunteer paramedics and resources

Chautauqua County

SILVER CREEK N.Y. (WIVB) – The closing of Lakeshore Hospital is raising concerns for more than just patients. First responders in the southern tier say this puts a strain on their volunteers and resources.

“Something is going to have to bend. And I hope truly, honestly that it’s not somebody’s life that has to pay for whatever plan they have with this hospital,” said Silver Creek volunteer Fire Chief Brandyn Griewisch.

Griewisch is one of about 20 other volunteers with the Silver Creek Fire Department, and his job is about to get a little more challenging. Since Lake Shore Hospital closed its doors the nearest hospital in Irving and Silver Creek is at least 20 to 25 minutes away.

“There’s other first responders but we still only have two ambulances and often times we’ve been called right on top of one another,” he said. “Both ambulances are being used next thing you know we’ll have another call and the time table trickles down and affects everybody whether we like it or not.”

Because the first responders in this area are volunteers Griewisch says he’s worried there won’t be enough people willing to put those hours in.

“If we get right in the door at ECMC, at Mercy, something like that, if we get right in the door you’re still talking a three, three and a half hour trip,” Griewisch said.

It’s not only the concern for volunteers, there’s also the strain on their equipment and cars that this extra distance will cause.

“Just for that three mile ride, there wasn’t a whole lot of wear and tear on the ambulances,”Griewisch said. “Now we’ll be doing 35 miles to Buffalo, it’s more wear and tear, more brakes, more fuel, more everything.”

While residents get used to this change, there will be a private ambulance service parked at the hospital in case people show up seeking care. Griewisch says he’s unsure how long that service will be there.

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