Pennsylvania Township Discontinues Fire-Based EMS Coverage - News - @

Pennsylvania Township Discontinues Fire-Based EMS Coverage

Lack of staffing forces Haverford Township to contract with University of Pennsylvania Health Systems


MARI A. SCHAEFER, The Philadelphia Inquirer | | Friday, July 18, 2014

Breaking a tradition that dates to the 1950s, Haverford Township will discontinue using ambulance services provided by two volunteer fire companies and will contract with the University of Pennsylvania Health Systems for emergency medical services.

The township says the move will save $440,000 annually.

Llanerch Volunteer Fire and Ambulance Company has provided service for 63 years, the Manoa Fire Company for 59. But with fewer volunteers available during critical hours, the costs of hiring emergency medical technicians to cover shifts, and concerns about response times, the Delaware County township elected to solicit bids for the critical service.

Such issues may become more common. "Townships all over the commonwealth will be faced with this," said Larry Gentile, Haverford Township manager.

Haverford commissioners recently voted to accept UPHS as the new provider, starting late this year or early next. Crozer Chester Medical Center and Narberth Ambulance also submitted bids.

UPHS has agreed to hire the 42 current full- and part-time EMTs and paramedics, provided they meet basic employment standards. They will get raises and be eligible for tuition reimbursements, Gentile said.

"Overall, this is a win-win situation for the township," said Gentile, who once volunteered for Llanerch and worked as a paramedic.

The annual budget for the township's emergency medical service is $1.76 million, operated at an annual $700,000 loss. With the change, the loss would be cut to $260,000, Gentile said.

Michael Norman, fire chief for the Manoa Fire Company, did not return calls for comment.

Carole Lieblein, board president for Llanerch Fire Company, said that it had planned to submit a bid as a combined service with Manoa, but that the township would not accept the proposal.

Lieblein was disturbed by what she called a lack of transparency and the "unprofessional" way the deal was handled.

"It is a shame to see the system go," she said, "and it is a shame to see how it was done."

Lieblein was concerned that a few of the 40 EMTs, some of whom are older, would not be hired by Penn and that Penn's no-smoking policy might be an issue.

Llanerch "wrote off" what the insurance companies wouldn't reimburse for members, who paid $40 a year for the service, said Lieblein. "I don't see Penn doing that." She said Manoa had a similar policy.

Gentile said the two fire companies approached the township last year with concerns over mounting costs. Since they had problems staffing the ambulances, he said, they were not invited to bid.

While locations have not been finalized, one ambulance would be housed in the Haverford College area, one at the township building on Darby Road, and a third in the Manoa/Bon Air section, Gentile said.

"Nothing is going to change," said Gentile. "Patients will still go to the closest appropriate hospital."

"It's sad to see it go," said Steve D'Emilio, commissioner for the First Ward. D'Emilio, who also is a longtime member and current treasurer of Manoa Fire Company, said that the system was good for the community but that fire companies could not keep up with the costs of paying EMTs.

"You have to look at the financial aspects," D'Emilio said, adding the new arrangement would be closely monitored.

"This system was never planned; it evolved," said McCans. "Decisions were made along the way that were appropriate for the times. Circumstances have changed."

Volunteers will not be cut out entirely, said Gentile. An SUV-type Quick Response Vehicle will be housed at the two fire stations, he said, and will be available for EMT volunteers to respond to incidents to assist paid staff.

Mobile Category: 

Copyright © 2013 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy

Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: News, volunteer staffing, ambulance contract

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Buyer's Guide Featured Companies

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS

Get JEMS in Your Inbox


Fire EMS Blogs

Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts


EMS Airway Clinic

Improving Survival from Cardiac Arrest Using ACD-CPR + ITD

Using active compression-decompression CPR with an ITD has been shown to improve 1-year survival from cardiac arrest by 33%.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Philadelphia Fire Department Apologizes for Medic’s Jab at Police

Union head calls photos a slap in the face of officers.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

D.C. Fire and EMS Crews Blame New Technology for Patient’s Death

Delayed response blamed on recurring dispatch problems.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

Suspect Steals, Crashes Maryland Ambulance

One killed, others injured in Prince George’s County crash.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

Truck Strikes Pedestrians in Scotland

Six killed in downtown Glasgow.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Tennessee Trench Rescue

Worker pulled from Roane County worksite.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Time’s Ebola Firefighters

Doctors, nurses and others saluted for fighting virus.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >

More Product Videos >