Northwest EMS seeks strategic funding model

By on March 13, 2019

Northwest EMS is looking to establish solid funding from the 12 municipalities it serves.

Pete Whipple, a NWEMS board member, explained the organization’s struggles to make ends meet at the Elizabeth Township Supervisors meeting on March 11.

NWEMS is “three to five years from having to hit the panic button,” Whipple said.
Northwest is looking at new models of future funding but Whipple did not request a specific amount from the township. He instead suggested a number of possible methods to use in calculating the township’s contribution.

Suggestions included basing the contribution rate on the number of residents in Elizabeth Township (3,886), on the number of calls for service, and calculations determined through property tax assessments.

“We’re asking the municipality to come up with a plan,” said NWEMS board member Bob Enck. “It’s your ambulance service…we’re not trying to dictate.” Three examples for calculating Elizabeth Township’s contribution resulted in amounts between $10,000 and $15,000. Supervisor Jeff Burkholder noted that a donation of $12,000 is in this year’s budget, and thanked the EMS for its service.

To control costs, NWEMS has looked at mergers with other service providers and a possible partnership with a hospital. Also on the table is the idea of leasing employees from a larger organization.

Rose High, who represents Elizabeth Township on the NWEMS board, stressed the importance of working out funding.

“Many EMS organizations across the state are having to close,” she said. “Imagine if your loved one needed medical assistance, and there was no one to come to help.” High suggested that if no plan of action is implemented that people might be forced to subscribe to get EMS service and that “no one wants that to happen.”

“It is now voluntary to join (the supporters of NWEMS). It may have to become mandatory,” High said. Burkholder noted that some people who use the ambulance services fail to pay for services rendered, which creates a financial difficulty for NWEMS. Scott Kingsboro, another NWEMS board member, related an incident in which a patient received checks from an insurance provider to cover various ambulance bills, but the patient kept the money. Despite pursuing various avenues, there seems to be no way for the ambulance to collect that money.

The board of supervisors were unanimous in their appreciation and support of NWEMS.

In other business, supervisors unanimously approved the Tractor Supply proposed lot add-on plan and traffic impact assessment. These approvals are two more steps toward bringing the store to Elizabeth Township, near the intersection of Routes 501 and 322.

The Tractor Supply store is one part of a three-lot development plan at the location. At present, there are no plans for the other two lots.
Supervisors also discussed a resolution to establish a volunteer service credit program. The plan would give a $100 earned income tax refund to volunteer firefighters who meet pre-determined service levels.

“One hundred dollars is not enough,” said Supervisor Rodney May. “The Brickerville Fire Department responded to 107 calls in 2018. That’s about $1 per call and that doesn’t include the training and the classes that are required. Three hundred dollars isn’t enough. Five hundred isn’t enough.”

The resolution passed unanimously.

Melinda Elmer is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at 

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