It doesn't happen often, but late this afternoon there was a shortage of in-service ambulances serving Genesee County.
All Mercy EMS units were tied up on accidents and medical calls, Le Roy, Byron and Oakfield were tied up, too, and crews in Bethany, Darien and Alexander were requested to respond to their respective fire halls to stand by in case needed.
At the time, there were no in-service ambulances within Batavia city limits. There were also no pending calls in the city at the time.
Within 30 minutes of the Bethany, Darien and Alexander crews being put on standby, three Mercy EMS units came in service.
"It doesn't happen a lot, but there is a system in place to protect the public," said Tim Yaeger, director of emergency management for Genesee County.
Yaeger explained that there is a tiered-response system with Mercy EMS, the respective Volunteer Fire departments' units and the medics with volunteer departments. The county also has mutual aide agreements with neighboring counties.
The volunteer departments can respond to other jurisdictions when the primary ambulance services are tied up.
There's been some talk, Yaeger said, of volunteer departments getting out of ambulance service because of the expense and the difficulty in keeping the services staffed with qualified volunteers.
"This is why we've got to do everything we can to keep those units in business, because they fill in during busy times," Yaeger said.