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Pa. township to house ambulances at local college

The township ended 60-year-old contracts with two local fire companies and switched to the University of Pennsylvania Health Systems for emergency medical services

By Mari A. Schaefer
The Philadelphia Inquirer

HAVERFORD TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Haverford Township soon will house its ambulances on the Haverford College campus and at the Bon Air Fire Company, officials have announced.

The township recently contracted with University of Pennsylvania Health Systems for emergency medical services - ending 60-year-old arrangements with two local fire companies. Officials say the move will save the township about $440,000 annually.

"Haverford Township is really upping the level of service in this area," James McCans, paramedic director for the township, said of the agreement.

Financial details still are being worked out, but plans are to begin using the new locations by November.

Each ambulance will have one paramedic and one EMT on board, McCans said. Two township-run advance life-support vehicles for paramedic supervisors will remain at the township building on Darby Road. They will respond when more than one paramedic is needed at a call, he said.

The Llanerch Volunteer Fire and Ambulance Company and the Manoa Fire Company, both in the southern part of the township, had provided the service since the 1950s. But with fewer volunteers, increased costs of hiring emergency medical technicians to cover shifts, and concerns about response times to parts of the area, the Delaware County township elected to solicit bids for the service.

"We recognized we had delays to the upper-north and northeastern area of the township," said McCans. Traffic patterns, population growth, and more calls to the northern area played into the decision to seek a site near or on the campus, McCans said.

The 42 current full- and part-time EMTs and paramedics used by the fire companies are expected to be hired by Penn Medicine if they meet basic employment standards, said Bob Higgins, program director for the PennSTAR flight program, which runs the system's air and ground services.

While many colleges have EMS units staffed by student volunteers on campus, Higgins said that having a municipal service housed on a campus is unique.

The ambulance-service staff will be housed in a unit of the Haverford College Apartments on Ardmore Avenue, said Tom King, director of campus safety at Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges. A small tentlike structure will be constructed to keep snow off the ambulance, he said.

King said the township's plan was well-received by the college administration.

In addition to faster response time for the northern end of the township, an ambulance on campus will benefit students, faculty, and staff who may need emergency medical assistance, he said.

"It's too good to be true," he said. "There is no downside.

Andy Sivak, the chief of the Bon Air Fire Company, said the vote of the membership was unanimous in favor of hosting the ambulance crew.

"Everyone is looking forward to it," he said. 


©2014 The Philadelphia Inquirer

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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