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Closest Paramedic Units Questioned in Pennsylvania Community

When it comes to saving a life, do you know how long it takes for your emergency crews to respond?

In Lycoming County, some public officials are concerned that some areas are not using the closest paramedic units.

It is up to each community to decide which paramedic units respond to an emergency and in what order.

It is called a box card and when you call 911, depending on where you live, you could be getting a paramedic crew that takes longer to respond than a crew that is closer.

At the Clinton Township Volunteer Fire company near Montgomery, Chief Todd Winder is confident he has the right plans in place if there's an emergency.

"I feel we've increased the level of service to our community," said Chief Winder.

He chose to go with the Loyalsock Township unit first, followed by Hepburn Township north of Williamsport on Route 15, instead of the one near Muncy.

"The closest truck on a piece of paper may not be sitting there when you call 911, it may be on another call," added Winder.

He is not alone. In Montoursville, the first paramedic crew comes from a station on Broad Street, according to officials. The second unit would come from Williamsport, not the closer Loyalsock Township.

"If your ALS unit is coming from 15, 20 minutes away, chance of surviving is greatly reduced," said Lycoming County Coroner Chuck Kiessling.

That is why Kiessling, along with Old Lycoming Township Police Chief Bill Solomon want people to know it is up to local officials to decide where help is coming from.

"I think every community needs to reevaluate the situation and who's coming to their particular area," said Chief Solomon.

Some were surprised to learn the closest paramedic unit is not always the first on the list to respond when lives are on the line.

"I want the first available unit that's as close to my home to be available to me at all times, thought that's what my tax dollars are all about," said Sally Pepperman of South Williamsport.

Not all communities choose paramedic crews that are farther away to be first to respond.

In October, the folks in Clinton Township expect to have a paramedic crew stationed there cutting down on the time it takes to respond to an emergency.

Copyright © 2011, WNEP-TV



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