Pa. city warns it will ask state for permission to stop responding to out-of-city EMS calls

Letters distributed to eight other municipalities said an "unfair burden" has been placed on the Warren Fire Department to respond outside the city

By Laura French

CITY OF WARREN, Pa. — A Pennsylvania city has sent out letters warning other nearby municipalities that it will be asking the state to no longer require its ambulance service to respond to 911 calls outside city limits. 

Two letters, one written by Warren City Manager Nancy Freenock and another by the city's legal counsel, were sent to leaders in eight other municipalities in Warren County on Tuesday, according to the Times Observer. The municipalities that received the letters are Brokenstraw, Conewango, Glade, Mead, Pine Grove, Pleasant, Sheffield and Youngsville. 

Freenock's letter stated that EMS responses by the City of Warren Fire Department to outside municipalities has steadily increased and that the city is not receiving enough compensation to cover the cost of responding to those calls. 

"The taxpayers of the City of Warren are subsidizing a necessary public safety service which your municipality is statutorily obligated to provide. This places an unjust and unfair burden on the taxpayers of the City for which no reciprocal benefit is received," the letter read, according to the Times Observer. 

The second letter was a draft of the letter the city plans to send to the Pennsylvania Bureau of Emergency Medical Services asking for permission to stop responding to 911 calls outside of city limits. Officials said the Warren City Council plans to vote on whether to send the letter to the state at a meeting later this month. 

The letter to state EMS officials says the requirement that the City of Warren Fire Department respond to other municipalities means there is no incentive for those municipalities to improve their own ambulances services. The letter also states that continuing to provide ambulance services outside the city would be detrimental to the health and safety of Warren city residents due to the strain on fire department resources, and warns that if relief is not provided, the city plans to ask that disciplinary action be taken against other county EMS agencies for not fulfilling obligations under the EMS System Act. 

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