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February 2, 2022 - 3:41pm

Genesee County releases survey seeking public input regarding emergency management services

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Genesee County officials are asking citizens to make their voices heard as the quest for a more efficient emergency and fire response network moves forward.

County Emergency Management Services Coordinator Timothy Yaeger today announced that a series of questionnaires and surveys – including one targeting county residents – are ready to be distributed.

Over the last several months, the county has been working with representatives of Municipal Resources Inc., a Plymouth, N.H.-based consulting firm that specializes in finding solutions for municipalities dealing with emergency services staffing shortage and other issues.

“This is pretty much the public's chance to have a voice and give their views and be a part of this process,” Yaeger said this morning. “This is a very important part because although fire and EMS does a great job providing these services, rarely do we get the input from the public unless they’re receiving those services.”

Yaeger said most people aren’t familiar with the level of service or who’s delivering this service to their community.

“I think it's important for them to understand the severe staffing issues that we're having, so they can be part of the solution,” he said. “And we really want to hear what they have to say. What level of service do they expect from us? Can we meet that need? We need to figure out how we’re going to meet that need.”

While questionnaires and surveys will be emailed to fire responders plus fire, county, town and village officials, the surveys developed for the public are available online (see below) and through traditional and social media, Yaeger said.

CONSULTANTS REACHING OUT LOCALLY

Yaeger said MRI consultants have made two site visits thus far, talking to 30-35 local officials and fire personnel as well as to owners of some of the county’s larger business and representatives of the Genesee County Economic Development Center and the Chamber of Commerce.

The questionnaires and surveys will be received by MRI, which will then compile the data and issue a report, likely in late spring. The deadline to fill out the surveys has been set for the end of February.

“Their goal is to get a very broad viewpoint of fire and emergency services in the county and how they're delivered in light of the awareness of these individuals, agencies or citizens,” Yaeger said. “We believe these surveys will go a long way to helping us find a way to meet the expectations and provide these services in the most efficient manner.”

In a press release, Yaeger reported:

About 85 percent of the fire departments in the United States are volunteer. This includes all the departments in Genesee County, except for the City of Batavia. The core issue is the decrease in the number of people able to volunteer at their local fire department.

There are many reasons for this, but the primary reason is the amount of time that people have available. Daily lives are hectic with people working extra to provide for their families, juggling home life and kid’s activities, leaving little time for other pursuits. As a result, our ability to recruit and retain members becomes more difficult every year.

CHANGING DEMOGRAPHICS CITED

In addition, the community composition has changed and the days when multiple family generations make up the ranks is almost gone. People used to grow up, find work, raise a family and retire in the same community.

This is rare today as many people are leaving for opportunities in other parts of the country. The average age of the community members is also increasing, limiting the number of people available having the physical abilities to perform the stressful duties of a volunteer.

The Genesee County Task Force was established to develop a vision and implementation plan that will help ensure the residents and business owners of the community receive the highest level of emergency services. The goal is to enhance the services we provide by evolving to meet the needs of community with the changing levels of resources (staffing, equipment, funds, etc.) that are available to us.

HERE's HOW TO ACCESS THE SURVEY

Yaeger said you can help by reaching out to your local volunteer fire department and ask for an application or by completing the public survey by clicking on the following:

GENESEE COUNTY EMS SURVEY

Paper copies of the survey will be available at the following locations: Richmond Memorial Library, Batavia, NY; Woodward Memorial Library, Le Roy, NY; Haxton Memorial Library, Oakfield, NY; Corfu Public Library, Corfu, NY; Hollwedel Memorial Library, Pavilion, NY; Byron-Bergen Public Library, Bergen, NY and the Office of the Aging, Batavia, NY.

Previously: Consultants are meeting with as many people as possible in effort to fortify county's emergency response model

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