History of ALSTAR EMS

W.C.A. Services Corporation actually began in 1979 as W.C.A. Office Building Inc. with a mission to support various healthcare initiatives within the community.  We held rental properties as sources of revenue and eventually put on nurses that assisted in physician offices.

In 1983 the Allied Orthopedic business was purchased and our name was changed to the W.C.A. Services Corporation.  We also began to do billing services through ‘ER Associates’ for the Emergency room doctors at W.C.A.  Prior to this we also purchased the Jamestown Area Ambulance Service and let the license drop – in an attempt to allow Chautauqua County Ambulance to improve their service without competition.  After two years it was clear that service in Jamestown did not improve and after a battle we obtained a CON or Certificate of Need so we could do ambulance service ourselves.  Our allowed territory was the three counties of southwestern New York.  Our initial service was ‘take homes’ from W.C.A., hospital transfers and runs to the CT Scanner at Jamestown Radiologists up town.

After a lot of work by a lot of people and the generosity of the Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation we entered into a joint venture with the Chautauqua County Sheriffs Department to operate Starflight – starting August 1986.

In 1988 the financially sinking Jamestown General Hospital was purchased by W.C.A. Hospital and we purchased the assets of the ‘Jones Hill Services Corporation’ aka Chautauqua County Ambulance.  Additionally a ‘Transfer of Ownership’ of the CCAS CON was obtained – giving us two ‘licenses’ to operate ambulance service. At this time we began 911 services in both north and south ends of the county.  It wasn’t until years later that the State informed us that CCAS had illegally added territory onto their CON.  After years of operating in the Dunkirk area, they were legally only licensed for Jamestown, Ellicott and Busti.  Since our main CON covers three counties, we were still good to go on the north end.

Over the years, we’ve been housed in many locations.  We initially had an ‘office’ at 300 Foote to start – with just one biller/dispatcher and a radio phone.  Even the pilot bunked upstairs in a converted back room in those days.  As the service grew, crews were quartered in various buildings – Prather avenue, JMHC professional building, Water Street, the Ford House next to Brooks, etc.  Often conditions were tough.  We dealt with rats and bats, bad furnaces and no hot water at times.  In the winter having to brush 2 feet of snow off a rig before you could go on a call – hoping you didn’t forget to unplug a heater cord before you left.  We had no hangar for the helicopter – having to ferry crews up to the airport during the winter for every flight.  

But times changed.  We steadily grew our service due to the dedication of a lot of people. In 1995 the 28 Maple Street building was built.  Knowing where we came from – it was a castle to many of us.  1995 also showed a move from the condemned Ford House to the present quarters in Dunkirk.

MedCom also had many changes.  Starting with one radio/phone and one portable radio it grew to a full communications center - moving from 300 Foote to the Jones hill professional building, back to 300 Foote to W.C.A. Hospital to Maple Street.  We now have UHF and VHF radio systems and multiple links to towers and other comm. centers and recently integrated computer aided dispatch with the sheriff’s department.

To return to my first question; what does A.L.S.T.A.R. stand for: this is an acronym created by a gentleman by the name of Randy McCray with a little help from Ron Hasson.  It stands for Advanced Life Support, Transport And Resources.  One other little tidbit; the name Starflight was also coined by these two (with approval of the bosses).  The ‘flight’ part is obvious.  The Star part is jointly for ALSTAR and the sheriff’s star.

Now you know the rest of the story.
Ron Hasson
EMS Resources Manager