LAWRENCE: Council to mull EMS options

By Lea Kahn, Staff Writer
Township Council was slated to discuss how it plans to handle providing emergency medical services at its regular meeting Wednesday night as The Ledger went to press.
    The council spent about a half-hour at its March 31 meeting mulling over the possibility of hiring its own emergency medical technicians and ending its arrangement with Capital Health Systems to provide overnight and weekend emergency medical care.
    Lawrence Township has four EMTs on staff who provide coverage from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. The township has a contract with CHS, which expires May 31, that calls for the hospital system to provide an ambulance and EMTs from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. weekdays, and around-the-clock coverage on weekends.
    Councilmen Bob Bostock and Rick Miller had suggested that if the township hires its own EMTs, it might be possible to house them at the former Lawrence Township First Aid Squad building on Pilla Avenue. The property is located at the rear of the Lawrence Road Fire Co.
    This week, Mr. Bostock and Mr. Miller announced in a press release that they had reached an agreement with the trustees of the Lawrence Township First Aid Squad to turn over the squad’s headquarters building to the township to house paid, fulltime EMTs and the necessary equipment — if Township Council agrees to hiring its own EMTs.
    Mr. Miller thanked trustees Marie Tagliaferri, Ken Kandrac and Dean Acquaviva for agreeing to give the squad’s headquarters building to Lawrence Township. The building has been unused since 2007, when Township Council contracted with CHS to provide overnight and weekend emergency medical services.
    “(The trustees) have once again selflessly put the needs of residents of our community first, as they did every time they answered a call for service during their many years as members and leaders of the Lawrence Township First Aid Squad,” Mr. Miller said in the press release.
    Mr. Bostock agreed that the trustees are “acting in the best tradition of the squad” by making the building available to Lawrence Township to house a full-time, paid emergency medical service — if the proposed EMS gains the council’s approval.
    Meanwhile, Ms. Tagliaferri acknowledged that Mr. Bostock and Mr. Miller approached the three trustees several weeks ago about turning over the squad’s building to Lawrence Township for use by a full-time, paid EMS.
    “We appreciate the effort Councilmen Miller and Bostock are making — with their council colleagues — to establish a full-time, paid emergency medical service for the people of Lawrence. We feel strongly this is in the best interests of the people of Lawrence Township,” Ms. Tagliaferri said in the press release.
    Mr. Kandrac and Mr. Acquaviva said they are convinced that by turning over the building to the township, they are honoring the spirit in which the Lawrence Township First Aid Squad was originally established in 1946 — to provide reliable, prompt and professional emergency medical service to township residents.
    “Over the years, the people of this town were always very supportive of our volunteer first aid squad,” Mr. Acquaviva said. “In a very real sense, by turning the squad’s building over to the township, we are really turning it over to the people who built it through their donations and support over the course of six decades.”
    Mayor Pam Mount said Tuesday afternoon that Mr. Bostock and Mr. Miller deserve credit for “brokering the deal.” Stationing the paid EMTs at the Lawrence Township Police Department was fine when there were only a couple of EMTs, but now that the township is moving toward fielding a fulltime squad, a permanent location is needed, she said.
    “I am very hopeful it will go through,” Mayor Mount said. “I think things will work out really well. The details will be left to the township attorney. It looks like it will work, but it has not been voted on or anything.”