Some EMS service in place, but concerns remain
Five municipalities in southeastern Warren County have a solution in place for EMS services.
The volunteer system is particularly taxed during day-time hours and the municipalities — Clarendon Borough, Mead, Cherry Grove, Sheffield and Pleasant townships — have agreements in place with the City of Warren and EmergyCare to provide coverage during those hours.
But there’s already concern about just how long will provide an adequate answer to the challenge.
The municipalities formed a commission to provide the service and Clarendon Borough Councilman Paul Pascuzzi said that the commission has agreed to potentially expand the agreement to Watson Township.
Pascuzzi said that makes sense because Clarendon and Pleasant — as well as Tidioute — cover a portion of that township.
“They don’t have that many calls up in Watson Township to be honest with you,” he said, telling the Council of Governments that Watson is “pretty interested in helping and participating.”
He acknowledged the expectation that — if successful — the commission would grow but Pascuzzi said that there is a “definite need” for a solution to the EMS question “for something that’s at a county level” rather than “each little region.”
The theme of regionalization is likely to continue.
Rich Barrett said it is “the way we are going to “take care of the county.
“It’s not a matter of cost,” Pleasant Township Supervisor Andy Brooks said. “It’s a matter of saving lives.”
“Is it something that we can afford? At this juncture, all the municipalities figured out how to pony up the money for one year” Pascuzzi said.
However, he said that for “sustainability” there are likely other ways to meet the need.
This type of inter-municipal commission is relatively unique across the Commonwealth
City of Warren Manager Mike Holtz said city fire is receiving requests “from all over the place” for copies of the agreement that’s in place.
“Our challenge is we’ve had eight fire departments provide BLS (basic life support) for a long time,” Pascuzzi said. “(They are) doing the best with that they have but having 84-year-old guys running ambulance calls is not sustainable. (We) are taking a look at that very hard.”
He said there’s “potential” for the solution to be paid staff down the line but stressed the need to provide “all levels of support we can give” to current volunteers as that is the overall cheaper option.
“Wages are always an issue,” Philip Wilson, EmergyCare’s Warren/Kane operations supervisor said. “(I) think that this EMS business is not as popular as it used to be.”
He also stressed supporting the volunteers because it’s “that first line care that doesn’t need an ambulance” that makes a big difference.
He said the future of EMS “takes a combination of everyone…. This is better than doing nothing.”