Is an ambulance enough?

CHEST PAINS, a car crash, too sick to drive. These and many other conditions would cause most of us to dial 911. Sometimes police officers or firefighters arrive on the scene first, and they can–and do–save lives. But if you were desperately ill or injured, what you’d most want to see is a paramedic and an ambulance.

That’s what emergency services consistently provide in most Columbia County communities. In New Lebanon and half of Canaan, however, the Lebanon Valley Protective Association Ambulance service does not have state paramedic certification. Its volunteer members and paid staff have undoubtedly saved countless lives, and while their level of skill is welcome and useful in emergencies, it’s not the same as a paramedic’s. Read more…

Magical budget thinking returns

DON’T YOU HATE the huge bonuses those greedy Wall Street bankers paid themselves after the government bailed them out with our money? Government could force them to give it back. But that might be a case of Be careful What You Wish For.

Consider the paradox facing this state. New York desperately needs the wealth that new regulations would prevent people from accumulating. Read more…

No place to hide on health bill

“My goals for health care remain the same as when we started this discussion last year. We need to fundamentally change the system to bring costs down for our families and small businesses, hold insurance companies accountable, and increase access to quality health care. When we have a bill to vote on, I will determine whether it goes far enough to fix the incentives in our health care system and if it is going to help the people of the 20th District.”

–Rep. Scott Murphy (D-20th)

THE QUOTE ABOVE comes directly and in its entirety from Rep. Murphy’s Washington office. His press spokesman provided it in response to the question of whether the congressman, whose district includes all of Columbia County, has decided how he will vote on what’s called “reconciliation” of the Senate health insurance reform bill. A Yes vote supports health insurance reform. Read more…

Remembering two colleagues

THE COUNTY LOST two people in the last few days who helped us understand who we are and what makes Columbia County tick. Vicki Simons, the former editor of a newspaper called The Independent died Monday evening at her home in Ghent. Bob Mitchell, a reporter who wrote for The Independent and the Register Star, and was the county’s public information officer, died Saturday at Albany Medical Center.

Both did more than cover the news, and their obituaries, which appear in this issue, list their public accomplishments. But we knew them as colleagues, and we respected them as people who cared deeply about sharing information with their friends and neighbors. Read more…

A long life? Not here

HOW’RE YOU FEELING? If you live in Columbia County, you probably feel a little healthier than your neighbors in, say, Ulster or Rensselaer counties. Unless you’re dead, of course.

As a matter of fact, you are likelier to be deceased sooner here than in most other counties in the state. This cheery news comes from the County Health Rankings study, part of a project of a joint effort by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. Read more…