fire & ems

Neighbors helping neighbors

By TED WADDELL
Posted 4/28/21

SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — In 2017, former NYS Trooper Rick Sauer was appointed as Sullivan County’s Commissioner of Public Safety, taking over the helm of the division with more than three …

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fire & ems

Neighbors helping neighbors

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SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — In 2017, former NYS Trooper Rick Sauer was appointed as Sullivan County’s Commissioner of Public Safety, taking over the helm of the division with more than three decades dedicated to serving the public.

He began a long-long association with emergency services as a 16-year-old emergency medical technician, then a member of a campus rescue team in college and then moved into the challenging world of law enforcement, first in Rochester, then in his hometown and then a 29-year career with the NYS Police.

In addition to 19 years stationed in the county, Sauer assisted in restoring order during the infamous Dannemora prison break, Hurricane-Harvey-lashed Texas and Hurricane Maria after it devastated Puerto Rico.

Before retiring as a sergeant from the NYS Police in 2016, he helped create and command the Contaminated Crime Scene Emergency Response Team, served on Troop F’s Counterterrorism Intelligence Unit and worked as an investigator with the bureau of criminal investigation.

During his noteworthy career, Sauer received numerous awards and commendations for his service in law enforcement and emergency management.

Asked about the state of volunteerism as it relates to local fire departments and ambulance squads, he replied, “It seems to be on the decline for both fire and EMS.”

“We rely heavily on our volunteers. It’s not just a county thing, it’s also a statewide and nationwide phenomenon,” said the veteran firefighter and former chief of the Liberty Fire Department.

“I think it’s a different society,” added Sauer, adding that from his perspective, the problem of getting new recruits stems from people often forced to work two jobs to make ends meet, single-parent households and other societal demands.

As a major benefit of volunteering with a local fire department or EMS agency, he cited reduced costs to the community, noting “to pay people to do what we’re doing, 24-7 response” would drive up local taxes in the rural area.

Sauer explained that local emergency services are trying to educate newcomers to the area: It isn’t as simple as picking up a phone and dialing 911 expecting an almost immediate response from paid departments, noting that it takes time for volunteer crews to be assembled.

“It’s all about neighbors helping neighbors,” said Sauer when asked what drives the spirit of volunteering with a local fire department or ambulance corps.

The Sullivan County Division of Public Safety is located at the Sullivan County Government Center, 100 North St., P.O. Box 5012, Monticello, NY 12701. For information, call 845/807-0508.

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