Wednesday, March 25, 2015 – Adams County fire companies merge, create Adams Regional EMS The consolidation will not affect fire service in Adams County.
By Lillian Reed
@lillianereed on Twitter
POSTED: 03/25/2015 04:17:05 PM EDT
Gettysburg Fire Department and United Hook and Ladder are joining forces to bring emergency medical services to 14 municipalities in Adams County, according to a news release.
The fire companies voted unanimously in January to merge and consolidate ambulance services, creating the Adams Regional EMS, which will run operations out of Gettysburg and New Oxford, with another operation in Bonneauville in the works, according to the release.
The merger, which will not affect fire service, will assume basic and advanced life support responsibilities by June 28, said Kevin Moul, an Adams Regional board member and United Hook treasurer. Basic life support includes emergency medical technicians who transport individuals to a hospital for medical attention. Advanced life support includes ambulances staffed by paramedics who are trained to administer care en route to the hospital and are equipped to handle issues such as cardiac arrests and congestive heart failure.
Moul serves on the nine-person Adams Regional Board of Directors along with Gettysburg Fire Department representatives Al Knerr, David Blocker and Bryan Wasylyk, United Hook and Ladder representatives Steve Rabine and Patrick Taylor, Adams County commissioners representative Randy Phiel, community member at large Ronald Hankey and Adams County Council of Government representative Barbara Underwood.
The change is in light of Gettysburg WellSpan’s plans to end their services this summer, Moul said.
“They aren’t ending their service until July 1 so we’ll be covering each other for a couple of days to give us some time to get up and running,” Moul said.
WellSpan’s exit will not occur until a regional system is in place and certain regulatory steps through the Department of Health are taken, said Gettysburg Wellspan President Jane Hyde.
“We believe a regional, less fragmented structure will be more sustainable in the long run,” Hyde said.
The hospital’s August 2013 announcement that it would end emergency response service in Adams County was motivated in part by an unsustainable business model, WellSpan officials said at the time.
Randy Phiel, who is also acting as the public information officer for the board, said he sees consolidation as a springboard for a more financially sustainable model.
I’m not sure what you mean by this. In the past, the department relied heavily on volunteers, which was problematic because it cost money to train and insure them, Phiel said.
Under the new model, Adams Regional EMS will retain the full-time paramedics employed by WellSpan and eliminate any reliance on volunteers through a billing system, he said. The new system will bill the user directly for the ambulance services.
“This is not designed to utilize fire tax or be a burden on the taxpayer,” Phiel said. The area covered by Adams Regional EMS has the highest volume of 911 emergency calls, making the user billing system a viable option for funding the joint venture, Phiel said.
Moul said he anticipated Adams Regional EMS will receive between 4,000 to 5,000 calls within the first year of operation.
In addition, the regional service will be offering membership to an Ambulance Club that gives residents the opportunity to pay a flat rate, based on how many people are living in the home. In return, any cost of emergency services not covered by regular insurance will be waived, Moul said.
Though Adams Regional EMS has not yet released the exact rates for membership to the club, Moul said, finalized information will be circulated to residents some time in June.
Ultimately, Phiel said, he sees more municipalities coming into the merger in the future.
“As far as countywide consolidation, as long as Hanover stay in the EMS business, some of the eastern municipalities won’t have a need to come in,” Phiel said
Though Adams Regional EMS is not in membership talks with any other municipalities, there has been discussion of creating joint-billing with Fairfield, Littlestown and potentially Frederick County, Maryland, Moul said.
Adams Regional EMS expects to advertise job openings for paramedics and EMTs in the coming weeks.
Any questions about the services can be directed to Randy Phiel, Adams Regional EMS public information officer, at 717-337-9820 or by email at email@example.com.
New Oxford Borough
Mount Pleasant Township
Mount Joy Township