Lancaster EMS, Quarryville, Pa., Strike Verbal Deal for ALS Service

LEMSA will station two 24-hour ALS ambulances in Southern End in July


Debbie Wygent, Intelligencer Journal/New Era (Lancaster, Pa.) | | Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Quarryville resident Bill Mankin Sr. stood in crowded council chambers June 3 and recalled when a citizen stood in that room to speak and went into cardiac arrest.

"We need you down here," said Mankin, a former borough council member, as he turned to representatives from Lancaster EMS, or LEMSA, to request 24-hour advanced life support ambulances for the southern end.

Quarryville Borough Council on June 3 reached a verbal agreement with LEMSA under which LEMSA will provide two 24-hour advanced-life support ambulances in the southern end starting in July.

One ambulance is to be stationed at Walter Aument Family Health Center, 317 S. Chestnut St., Quarryville, and the other will be stationed at an as-yet undetermined location at Buck, according to Bob May, executive director of LEMSA.

LEMSA will pay for the service through grants, donations and a subscription drive, according to May, whose written agreement stated that LEMSA would not ask Quarryville Borough Council to fund the service or enact an EMS tax.

The agreement followed months of talks about emergency medical care both in Quarryville Borough Council chambers and among southern-end municipal officials.

According to Quarryville police chief Ken Work, ambulance companies may solicit subscriptions within a municipality if the municipality has endorsed the ambulance company. Several ambulance companies, including LEMSA, Christiana, Wakefield and Susquehanna Valley EMS, have been covering southern Lancaster County - and sought municipal endorsements. Christiana has an ALS unit, but others did not promise to station an ALS unit in the southern end.

Some ambulance companies, including Christiana Ambulance Company, have begun seeking municipal donations and recommending that municipalities enact an emergency tax to fund ambulance companies. Sadsbury Township recently gave a $12,000 donation to the Christiana Ambulance Company after board members said the advanced training and paid staff required to run an ALS unit meant CAC was financially running "in the red."

Work, saying southern-end officials should decide together who to recommend, brought the issue to the Southern End Intermunicipal Council, and the council has been discussing the issue for the past few months.

May, speaking at the June 3 meeting in Quarryville, said, "You want me to give it to you on the table we won't ask for any financial support from the borough of Quarryville?

"If it means saving lives, I will give that to you," May said, agreeing on June 4 to forward a simple letter of agreement outlining terms of service.

Quarryville Mayor Joy Kemper said Saturday that an agreement that May termed a "covenant" had since been delivered to council members, who were looking it over. She said council also wanted to have the covenant reviewed by its attorney, Joselle Cleary.

Council voted unanimously to recommend LEMSA as its emergency services provider, as long as the formal written agreement coincides with the verbal agreement of the June 3 meeting.

Quarryville Borough Council member Jeff Minnich, who has represented Quarryville at the intermunicipal meetings, said most southern-end municipalities would be endorsing LEMSA at meetings in June and July.

Relieved Quarryville Borough resident Margaret McClellan passed out LEMSA subscription information following Monday's meeting.

Dr. Roland Larrabee, director of family medicine at Walter Aument Family Health Center, recalled losing a 42-year-old patient because an advanced life-support ambulance was not available in the region.

"ALS is not the Cadillac of service - it's the standard of care," Larrabee said. "It's what they can do when they get there. Please keep our citizens in mind and do what's best for them."

Dr. Michael Reihart, an emergency-room physician at Lancaster General Hospital and a member of LEMSA's board of trustees, echoed Larrabee's comments.

"You guys are a long way from the hospital," Reihart said. "An ALS unit is a public service that needs to be provided."

Bill Lamparter, maintenance supervisor for the borough, said that as a volunteer he drove a basic life-support ambulance in the southern end in the 1980s.

"Many people didn't survive because we just had BLS," he said.

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