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Rescue service to open station in West End

July 11, 2007|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN - Community Rescue Service officials told the Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday that the nonprofit ambulance service plans to open a station in the city's West End within the next few months.

Terry Trovinger, CRS's chief financial officer, said after the council work session that the West End station would become the new home for an ambulance that is stationed at the Antietam fire station on Summit Avenue.

CRS has to move so the Hagerstown Fire Department can make room for new equipment, he said.

Trovinger told the council that CRS appreciated the city's financial help over the years.

He said CRS used $75,000 that the city gave last year to help pay the cost of taking people to the hospital who can't afford to pay.

Those costs will only get worse, he said, because Medicaid recently cut reimbursements from $300 per ambulance run to $100.

"We can't operate on $100 a run," Trovinger said.

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With about $900,000 in reserve, CRS can operate on its own but still needs the city's help, he said.

Besides the decrease in Medicaid reimbursements, CRS has to replace two ambulances at a cost of $240,000, he said.

To garner further support, Trovinger told the council that CRS made 65 percent, or 5,624 of its 8,653 emergency calls last year in Hagerstown.

Based on trends, he projected that number would increase about 13 percent this year.

The downtown ambulance averages 76 calls per month and reduced emergency response times from 6 1/2 minutes to 3 1/2 minutes, Trovinger said.

In a critical incident, he said those three minutes could be the difference between life and death.

Councilwoman Kelly S. Cromer suggested that CRS explore securing government grants to help pay its operating costs.

She said it might be in CRS's best interest to find someone who is adept at writing grants to increase the chances of securing them.

Trovinger said CRS has tried securing grants, but after Sept. 11, 2001, most of the money was earmarked for fire departments.

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