P.O. Box 524, Clayton, NY 13624 315-686-2058
www.ti-rescue.org

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The Thousand Islands Emergency Rescue Service primary coverage area, the townships of Clayton and Orleans, consists of 154 square miles of mostly rural terrain with the villages of Clayton, LaFargeville, Depauville and Fisher's Landing. The two towns border the St. Lawrence River, with the Canadian border running just a few miles offshore.2010.16.jpg

The area is known as the Thousand Islands region, which provides a strong identity in our name, and for the namesake bridge from the U.S. mainland to Wellesley Island which carries traffic to the border crossing with Canada. The T.I. Bridge also provides the pattern for the TIERS logo.

There are several other smaller islands in the coverage area, which presents unique challenges in case of medical or fire emergencies. There are fire boats which can shuttle TIERS crews to and from an island call, depending on weather conditions. Clayton Fire Department's 36' fireboat “Last Chance” is the largest and busiest fireboat and TIERS keeps a complement of emergency medical equipment on board, and responding Paramedics take additional equipment with them. The Fisher's Landing, Alexandria Bay and Wellesly Island fire departments also have fireboats.

In addition to residents on islands and pleasure boats, the busy St. Lawrence Seaway also carries massive ocean-going freighter ships. Working with the United States Coast Guard, TIERS must always be ready for the possibility of an emergency medical call on a ship, and for a possible HAZMAT incident in case of a chemical- or petroleum-carrying ship accident. Any contact with international vessels and crews may also mean some involvement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Coast Guard, Customs or Border Patrol officials. There is also a chance of a mass casualty incident on the water involving one of several large tour boats that operate on the river.

Once the river starts to freeze, quick island access is by snowmobile, ATV or airboat only. The coverage area suffers from severe winter weather conditions on land, too, which pose their own EMS challenges. TIERS has an ATV/snowmobile Rescue Trailer, donated by The Rivergate Wheelers ATV Club of Clayton, which carries EMS and extrication equipment for rescues in remote, difficult terrain, and can provide emergency patient transportation in severe weather or across river ice.

TIERS also uses the Rescue Trailer and the TIERS EMS Bike Team to provide coverage during crowded public events in River communities. While the actual population of the coverage area is just over 7,000, the number of people along the shore swells considerably during the summer tourism season. Heat and humidity added to boating, water and land sports, heavy road traffic and alcohol consumption bumps up TIERS' number of calls in the summer months. There are numerous festivals and fairs in the River communities from May through October.

Clayton is the most cosmopolitan of the villages in the coverage area, charming and quiet, low-key–a great place for families and anything to do with summer and the water. Recent years have seen the arrival of military families from the U.S Army's Fort Drum.

LaFargeville is a smaller town, with a large farm supply business. Its nearby access to Interstate 81 also makes it a business center with a large trucking company, an LP gas company, the Crowley Foods plant, and the busy Can-Am Speedway. These also bring special considerations for TIERS and for fire services with large tanks of flammables and toxic chemicals fairly close to each other, and the need for training in industrial and confined-space rescue, plus updates in HAZMAT.

TIERS crews provide weekly stand-by services at the speedway throughout the racing season: for go-karts on Friday nights and full size stock car races on Saturday nights.

The hamlets of Depauville and Fisher's Landing are both small, rural communities-one on the river and one inland-with dedicated and active volunteer fire departments.

Rural areas account for the majority of our coverage area, so TIERS hosted rescuers from all over the area at the 2005 Farm Medic seminar, dealing specifically with special farm considerations–machinery and farm equipment entrapments, chemicals and fertilizers used, silo rescue and other specific topics. We also rely on our Rescue Trailer for use in remote areas of farmland and thick woods.

A new-and surprising-addition to our area is the arrival of several families of Old Amish who have relocated to the Depauville area from Ohio and Pennsylvania, drawn by high-quality farmland at low purchase prices. While they typically have little to do with “The English”, we do have an occasional need to serve their emergency medical needs.

The History of Thousand Islands Emergency Rescue Service

Thousand Islands Emergency Rescue Service (TIERS), was conceived as a consolidation of emergency medical services (EMS), then offered by the Clayton and LaFargeville fire departments, which had provided the River communities’ EMS coverage along with Guilfoyle Ambulance Service of Watertown. Fire departments had experienced increasing difficulties recruiting Emergency Medical Technicians as volunteers could not afford to lose work time or make the hundreds of hours of sacrifice for the training required for medical certifications. Guilfoyle’s response time from Watertown was not life-saving in a medical emergency.

The consolidation of medical specialties into regional centers also caused ambulance transports to be much more time consuming, and research findings indicated that a higher level of medical training for ambulance personnel was required.

As fire chiefs sought ways to provide full-time ambulance service with the highest level of care possible, the Town of Clayton and Town of Orleans fire districts bridged part of the gap by joining to hire an advanced-level Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), to help cover weekday hours. Still, it fell to a few dedicated volunteers to cover the hundreds of medical emergencies that occurred nights and weekends.

Town officials focusing on public safety and economic development concerns joined with the fire departments and fire districts to put together a group of concerned citizens to design a solution. After two years and hundreds of hours of collaborative effort, the Thousand Islands Emergency Rescue Service, Inc. (TIERS) was founded. On January 1, 2003, at 12:01 AM, TIERS was in service providing fully staffed paramedic level emergency medical service to the Towns of Clayton and Orleans.

Full staffing of an ambulance means responding within minutes to a call. TIERS provides the Paramedicthe highest level of pre-hospital care available–response umbrella to the River communities for complicated and life-threatening medical emergencies. Our dedicated volunteers still log thousands of hours of service yearly as drivers, and provide back-up as Certified First Responders and EMTs. During 2007, 13,979.5 hours were volunteered in answering 1,100 calls which resulted in 651 hospital transports.

Fees are charged for TIERS' services because of payroll, medical supplies, and other administrative expenses must be paid for by TIERS instead of coming through from the volunteer fire departments.

In May, 2003 TIERS instituted the Safe Guard(TM) program, which combines financial protection with extra services, depending on the level of the donation. Visit the Safe Guard(TM) page at www.ti-rescue.org for more information.

TIERS continues to enlarge its scope of service to the community, including regular visits to senior citizen facilities and community first-aid, CPR, and Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) training for area residents, including seasonal and year-round residents of many islands in our service area. TIERS also operates a rescue trailer designed to be pulled by an ATV or snowmobile to accident scenes in rough terrain, and a Medic Bike Team to respond quickly in crowded conditions.

TIERS crews also respond with the Clayton Fire Department's fire boat Last Chance on medical emergency calls on islands or on the water.


Taken from the TIERS Website with permission. Edited by permission for clarity.



See also:
Thousand Islands
Clayton
Clayton Fire Department
Other Ambulance Squads in Jefferson County
Other Fire Departments in Jefferson County
County Agencies

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