Lake Shore Hospital closure puts strain on volunteer paramedics and resources

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SILVER CREEK NY (WIVB) — The closure of Lakeshore Hospital raises concerns for more than patients. South level first responders say this is straining their volunteers and resources.

“Something will have to bend. And I sincerely, honestly hope that it’s not someone’s life that has to pay for the plan they have with this hospital,” said Brandyn Griewisch, Silver Creek Volunteer Fire Chief.

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

“There are other first responders, but we still only have two ambulances and often we were called on top of each other,” he said. “Both ambulances are used the next time you know we’ll have another call and the timing ripples through and affects everyone whether we like it or not.”

Because first responders in this field are volunteers, Griewisch says he’s worried there aren’t enough people willing to put in those hours.

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

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

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

While residents get used to this change, there will be a private ambulance service stationed at the hospital in case people show up for treatment. Griewisch says he doesn’t know how long that service will be there.

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