ST. REGIS FALLS –– A fire. A medical emergency. A flooded basement. A cat stuck in a tree.

You can now add running out of milk to the list of reasons you can call the St. Regis Falls Fire Department. But only if it’s an emergency.

The department is implementing a service in which volunteers will help those who are either confined to their home or reluctant to go out because of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak by making a milk or medicine run for them, Fire Chief Wilbur Bailey said Friday.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty out there,” he said

“We’ll try to help in any way we can,” Bailey said.

The service will actually help people get “whatever they need” from groceries, pharmacies or other stores, Bailey said. Volunteers will drive to the appropriate store to make a purchase, then deliver it to callers at their homes, he said.

The effort is an attempt to “try to limit the exposure” to the coronavirus, which was sickened more than 7,000 people in New York state as of Friday, resulting in 35 deaths, the chief said.

The St. Regis Falls Ambulance Service staffs the fire house 10 hours a day, seven days a week and will take calls for assistance, Bailey said. The number to call is 518-856-9314.

Bailey said taking on the additional responsibility is just another way the fire and EMS volunteers give back.

“It’s our community,” he said, adding “We’re in this for the long haul.”

The program is similar to one being implemented by the adult center in Tupper Lake. The center is taking calls from people who either cannot or are afraid to go out and have no family members to assist them, Tupper Lake Mayor Paul Maroun told his colleagues on the Franklin County Legislature on Thursday. The center takes the calls during the day, then reaches out to volunteers on a call list to the make the pickup and delivery, he said.

The St. Regis Falls Central School District will begin a food distribution program for students who will no longer be able to receive breakfasts and lunches through the school.

Meals will be delivered in two-day increments on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at all homes in the district that requested assistance. “We ask that you wait at least 10 seconds before you open the door to retrieve items so that we may honor social distancing guidelines put in place to protect students, staff and families,” a notice on the district website states.

In the same vein, the St. Regis Falls Fire Department and the Ambulance Service will be cutting back on the number of volunteers responding to calls, Bailey said. Responses will be kept to two or three people, unless more manpower is needed, he said.

“Minimum staffing, minimum exposure,” he said.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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