WASHINGTON CROSSING, Pa. -- Upper Makefield Township has signed a one-year, $235,000 contract replacing the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) provider it has had for the past decade.
Newtown Emergency Medical Services will handle medical services and transport in the township in place of St. Mary Medical Center, which earlier this year cited cost and staffing issues as reasons for exiting the service effective March 1.
Until Newtown EMS fully is in place, ambulance needs will be handled by the nearest service.
“No matter what, you’re not going to be without service,” said Edwan Resnikoff, Newtown’s chief of operations. “You call 911 and the county’s 911 center is going to dispatch the closest unit to your location and someone is going to show up. It may be a little bit longer. Our response time to Traditions is 12 minutes from Newtown typically for an ALS (Advance Life Support) call.”
St. Mary had provided round-the-clock ambulance staffing in Upper Makefield at the fire station on Taylorsville Road, but under the new plan Newtown EMS will be there for 24 hours on Wednesdays and Fridays, and during the day on Saturdays.
Resnikoff said the new hours are when most people in Upper Makefield Township are at home and when statistically most ambulance calls are made. During the other weekly time periods, Newtown EMS will stage a non-transport response vehicle 24/7 staffed by an EMT, a paramedic or an advanced EMT at the fire station to handle calls, he said.
The closest possible ambulance is automatically co-dispatched whenever a response is sent, according to Resnikoff, who said the ambulance will respond within five to seven minutes of a call with the paramedic, EMT or advanced EMT beginning care until the ambulance arrives to transport the patient.
In searching for a new provider, Upper Makefield Township supervisors conducted a thorough review of possibilities, according to Tony Cino, board chairman.
“The common thread across the marketplace has been that staffing has been difficult and some just opted not to provide the service,” he said. “Some opted to provide a response that didn’t have any type of guarantee of service, thus not making it a viable option.”
Putting an ambulance in the township round-the-clock, seven days a week would be costly, said Resnikoff, due to the township’s low- call volume at 0.8 calls per day putting the annual fee at more than $700,000.
A portion of Upper Makefield Township along Creamery Road already is covered by Newtown EMS and will continue that way. Central Bucks Ambulance will continue its service it already provides in Upper Makefield in Pineville and Windy ridge.
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