After 25 years of existence, the UPMC St. Margaret Paramedic Response team is one of a dying breed.
The 10-member team, based out of the hospital near Aspinwall, was on life support nearly six years ago. Paramedic services, once prevalent in the area, have fallen victim to budget cuts. The only other hospital-based unit in the area is at the Alle-Kiski Medical Center in Natrona Heights, Harrison. “With no money coming in, they close,” said David Bianco, coordinator of the St. Margaret team.
Bianco, a member of the team for 11 years, said the hospital considered shutting it down, citing budget concerns, while he was in Iraq in 2003. But once hospital executives saw the benefit of the program, they kept it, even adding vehicles and other support. “The community really rallied around the program,” he said. “They love the idea that we are there and ready to respond quickly. I hope we’re around for another 25 years.”
The team aids local EMS services often stretched thin, from Aspinwall and Sharpsburg to West Deer. For 25 years, it has responded to emergency calls while developing ties with the area through community outreach and safety programs and classes.