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EMS agreement gains conditional approval

November 29, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

The Chambersburg Borough Council gave conditional approval this week to an emergency medical services agreement that places higher accountability on its advanced life support provider.

The 3-year contract with West Shore Emergency Medical Services is a partnership between the borough, Greene, Letterkenny, Hamilton and Guilford townships. St. Thomas Township withdrew from the contract but plans to continue attending emergency services meetings.

Under the agreement approved Tuesday, West Shore will provide advanced life support service while the borough will remain the primary provider of basic life support for the region, Assistant Borough Manager David Finch said.

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The contract has a clause allowing any party to withdraw, provided it gives 12 months' notice, he said.

The borough has considered forming its own advanced life support service after receiving complaints about West Shore's service. No decision has been made, but it would take the borough close to a year to establish one.

In the meantime, several council members said they were satisfied with the new agreement because it addresses areas of concerns, including response times.

Finch said the standards of service and process by which complaints are handled have also been vastly expanded in the contract, which will begin Jan. 1.

The contract also increases the reimbursement rate from the townships to the borough when Chambersburg basic life support responds to a call. The amount was raised from $40 to $45.

Council members agreed Tuesday it is only fair that the borough should also reimburse the townships when their emergency units respond to calls within the borough.

This will cost the borough about $7,000 annually, Finch said.

Hamilton Township Supervisor Randy Negley urged the council to approve the agreement.

"We have worked for over five months on the contract. I think we have a good thing going, and I would like it to continue," he said.

Council member Sharon Bigler, a volunteer emergency medical technician in the borough, has long fought for the borough to sever ties with West Shore because of complaints about its service. She voted against the contract.

The other eight council members at Tuesday's meeting approved the contract on the condition there are no questions raised by the borough solicitor, who had not had a chance to completely review the agreement.

Negley, expressing concern about the future of emergency services in the county, also urged council members to attend a meeting at 1 p.m. on Dec. 18 at the Franklin Fire Co. in Chambersburg to discuss forming a regional emergency services council.

"We need to fully integrate into a countywide system. No one can do it by themselves," said Council President Bill McLaughlin, who supports the initiative.

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