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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara

“Thank you to emergency responders”

ALBANY, Aug. 20, 2018 -- The torrential rain and subsequent flash flooding that brought states of emergency to Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates and numerous other regional counties remind us of the importance of emergency preparedness and of the absolutely heroic efforts of area emergency responders.

Our region is no stranger to natural disasters, emergencies, or tragic accidents. We understand that disaster can strike at any instant. Accompanying this knowledge is a deep-rooted recognition of the bravery and selflessness shown by ordinary citizens, passersby, family members, friends, neighbors, and, of course, first responders in the face of disaster. The instant outpouring of assistance and generosity is always, without fail, remarkable.

As always, we can never be grateful enough for the continued service of local emergency first responders to all of our communities. I have said it many, many times in the past and it always bears repeating: On behalf of the residents of the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions, "thank you" to those who come to the rescue in so many different and crucial ways.

Time after time after time we have been reassured -- and had our faith and hope restored -- through countless gestures of caring and commitment, rescue and recovery. A thousand stories go untold but collectively they stand as the most powerful force of renewal. We simply do not carry on without them. In recent days, local Red Cross volunteers, businesses, churches, schools, scout troops, and so many other institutions, organizations, and everyday citizens have responded.

In 2014, New York State launched the Citizen Preparedness Corps with the goal of training 100,000 New Yorkers "to be first responders in their own homes and in their communities." The program has sought to provide citizens with tools and resources to help them better prepare for and respond to emergencies and disasters. To date, forums have been held in every county within the 58th Senate District (Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Tompkins, and Yates counties) and more are scheduled each year. Additional information is on the New York State
Prepare website:

State and federal governments also provide critical funding to help localities strengthen and upgrade their emergency response capabilities. These important public safety and emergency response grants make a difference for local emergency response teams. Emergency
preparedness, response and recovery are fundamental government responsibilities. The rapid response last week from the state departments of Environmental Conservation, Health and Transportation, as well as from the National Guard and the state Division of Homeland
Security and Emergency Services, was impressive and welcome. I know I speak on behalf of many local officials and citizens when I express our gratitude.

Yet as the years have gone by, whenever we highlight the importance of local emergency services, one fact has been constant: the ranks of local volunteer firefighters, EMTs, and other emergency services personnel are declining. It has been documented by prominent
organizations like the Firemen's Association of New York (FASNY). Some rural counties across upstate New York, for instance, have experienced as much as a 50% depletion of their EMT ranks.

For the foreseeable future, New York government will have its hands full on many fronts. We face stubborn economic and fiscal challenges as well as challenges in our schools, on maintaining local roads and bridges, and so many more.

But our long-term focus, in my view, must include the ability of local volunteer fire companies and ambulance services to recruit and retain volunteers. There are factors outside of government's influence that contribute to declining volunteer ranks. Nevertheless, there are
actions that government can and should take to help reverse it.

To those who provide service, every day and every night throughout our communities, thank you. We are grateful.

Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara

Schuyler County Officials

Legislature Members:

Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Jim Howell, Michael Lausell, Van Harp

Bottom row: Carl Blowers, David Reed, Phil Barnes, Mark Rondinaro


Legislature Chairman

Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687

Legislature Members:

Carl Blowers

Van Harp

Jim Howell

David M. Reed

Michael Lausell

Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen, 481-0482

Mark Rondinaro

County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133

Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222

Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222

County Treasurer: Harriett Vickio, 535-8181

District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383


State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County

Sen. Charles E. Schumer

United States Senate
313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3201
DC Phone: 202-224-6542
DC Fax: 202-228-3027
Email Address:

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand

United States Senate
478 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
DC Phone: 202-224-4451

State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)

Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Phone: (518) 455-2091
Fax: (518) 426-6976

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano-- Steuben, Schuyler, Yates
Room 723, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
Phone: (518) 455-5791


© The Odessa File 2017
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869