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Pa. EMS agencies earn national accreditation honor

McCandless-Franklin Park Ambulance Authority and Ross/West View Emergency Medical Services Authority recognized for exceeding standards

By Laura Esposito
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

HAMPTON TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Two emergency medical service agencies in Allegheny County have earned a national accreditation considered the gold standard for first responders.

The McCandless-Franklin Park Ambulance Authority and Ross/West View Emergency Medical Services Authority received national accreditation, which less than 1% of the 18,000 EMS agencies nationwide have earned.

"[The agencies] did it for the betterment of the communities they serve and the employees that work for them,” Allegheny County EMS Chief Matthew Brown said Friday at a ceremony at the county’s Public Safety Training Campus in Hampton Township.

The honor is issued by the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services, a non-profit organization made up of emergency medical and health care experts that tout the standard for quality patient care within medical transportation systems.

Both agencies’ response times, patient care, safety and training practices were evaluated for more than a year by CAAS reviewers to ensure they provide services that “often go above state and local regulations,” according to the CAAS website.

"[It] confirms [the two agencies] meet or exceed standards at every moment they’re offering services,” Chief Brown said.

Ross/West View EMSA Chief Greg Porter said his team chose to undertake the lengthy accreditation process not only to better their community but also to highlight the success of their system and “fight for recognition.”

“Ambulance services across the commonwealth and EMS services are in crisis,” he said. “Not only are we going to fight that crisis, but when we strive to be better, we’re going to take this as an opportunity to profile our agencies and EMS system.”

Staffing shortages have plagued emergency medical services across the state for years because of increased wages in fields outside of healthcare and a decline in volunteer EMS participation. In 2021, 4,053 EMS personnel in Pennsylvania did not renew their certifications, with 2,606 of those representing emergency medical technicians.

Now, announcements of closures and mergers to preserve resources are becoming routine across the commonwealth.

In February, a new state program was launched to address the shortage, providing $1 million annually for the next three years to reimburse emergency medical service workers for their training expenses and EMS agencies for recruiting and retention programs.

Despite their hardships, Chief Porter said the accreditation has inspired his team to “be the best they can be.”

“The excitement in our station right now — it’s an exciting place to be,” he said. “I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

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