By JENNIFER FITCH
10:07 PM EDT, March 11, 2013
Donations, including a $240,000 pledge from Chambersburg Hospital, are allowing the Chambersburg Emergency Services Department to expand its fleet of ambulances.
The borough will be buying a third ambulance, with plans that two of those ambulances will be available for calls during peak times. Currently, it operates one ambulance each day.
The department is required to keep one ambulance in reserve, plus one of them is typically undergoing maintenance on any given day, Borough Manager Jeffrey Stonehill said Monday.
“Ultimately, what we’re after is better public service, quicker public service,” said William FitzGerald, emergency services chief.
Stonehill and FitzGerald talked to the Chambersburg Borough Council about the plans during the council’s meeting Monday.
Chambersburg Moose Lodge 842 contributed $5,000 toward purchasing the new ambulance and refurbishing the two existing ones. Chambersburg Hospital pledged $48,000 each year for five years.
Chambersburg Emergency Services Department’s first-due area includes not only the borough, but Guilford, Greene and Hamilton townships. Of its 5,200 emergency medical services calls in 2012, the department missed responding to 1,600 of them and deferred them to other providers.
“One ambulance can only handle so many responses,” FitzGerald said.
The second active ambulance will be made available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and billing associated with calls that would be otherwise missed should generate about $184,000 a year, he said.
The current ambulances are built on Ford F-250 chassis. The new one purchased through a state contract program will be a Freightliner.
“We just need a more robust vehicle for the wear and tear we put on them,” Stonehill said.
The borough does not intend to hire additional staff for the second active ambulance, Stonehill said. Instead, it will use on-duty staff, volunteers and overtime pay, he said.
Federal requirements state two emergency medical technicians must be on each unit, according to FitzGerald.
The two active ambulances will be divided between the department’s stations and could be dispatched in part through geography. The emergency services chief said reaching someone four to six minutes faster could mean the difference between life and death.
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