Ambulance services discussed in Denver

By on August 7, 2019

Reamstown Fire Chief Scott Achey spoke to Denver Council July 29 about the financially losing proposition in which the ambulance finds itself.

“This is a problem across our nation, not just here. Reamstown Ambulance loses between 40 and 50 thousand dollars a year. We’re taking a substantial amount of money from the fire company to help and we’re still falling behind. If ambulance companies could bill for everything done, money might be made and everyone would be in the business. That’s not the case,” said Achey.

Former devoted volunteers have aged out and not been replaced. Reamstown ambulance has four full-time paid staff, four to five part-time paid staff and two to three volunteers.

Achey said the reimbursement rate doesn’t cover the paid personnel. Reamstown subcontracts paid staff from WellSpan Ephrata.

Rick Carpenter, captain of Reamstown Ambulance, was also in the audience. Other ambulance personnel attending the council meeting included two officers from Reinholds ambulance: Ruth Beamesderfer, secretary and Marlin Martin, president.

Martin said Reinholds Ambulance, which covers the smaller portion of Denver north of the turnpike, is staffed with two full-time paid staff and 19 volunteers.

“Right now we’re holding our own and in stable shape. We get two grants annually that help us out,” said Martin.

Mayor Rod Redcay spoke about his experience as executive director of Declaration House, a non-profit social service organization.

Redcay shared, “Larger organizations look positively and will award money when cooperative alliances are formed which help make services stronger. He shared that at times one must swallow hard and be prepared for give and take as these types of cooperative ventures are formed.”

Borough manager Mike Hession asked Achey two questions during the discussion: 1) Why not separate the ambulance from the fire company? 2) What happens if you run out of money?

Achey said, “At this point we’re not interested in separating. Once you’d spin off into separate organizations the costs will go up, I’d assume.” He mentioned items like a new charter and fuel costs.
“If we’d run out of money and have to cease our ambulance service, the township would still have to provide the service. It could mean another, bigger EMS server would come in,” said Achey.

Reached by phone after the meeting to ask if Achey anticipated any next steps in action, he said he wasn’t aware of anything other than getting information out to the community.

“We’re not going to close tomorrow but we do need to do something in the next few years,” said Achey.
Denver Council president Blake Daub, said Denver takes their EMS services seriously and is grateful for them. Daub mentioned East Cocalico Police Department and Denver Volunteer Fire Company.
“We’re here to listen and to learn how we can help the ambulance,” summarized Daub.

In another agenda item, that of extending the police contract with East Cocalico Township from 2020 through 2025, council comments were of one mind, and council moved to proceed forward with the proposal. The current police contract expires Dec. 31, 2019.

Councilman Todd Stewart said, “This contract provides great stability.”

Hession noted that the new contract would provide a reconfigured 2020 cost and a 2.5 percent annual cost increase each year through 2025.

Police costs to Denver would go from approximately a half million dollars per year to $631, 437 in 2025.

In other business:

• Council passed a resolution prohibiting locating video gaming terminals in Denver.

• Chief Darrick Keppley reported 119 calls for service in Denver for June. This comprised 17.87 percent of all department calls.

• Fire Chief Shannon Hilton reported 171 calls to date with an average of 14 men responding per call. Average response time was 3 minutes 55 seconds. Hilton said the 1993 KME firetruck, which was replaced by a new one in 2018, was sold to Kaw City, Oklahoma fire department for $25,000.

Alice Hummer is a correspondent for The Ephrata Review.

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