Arnold ambulance service turns to volunteers
By Liz Hayes
Published: Friday, March 8, 2013, 1:21 a.m.
The Arnold Fire-EMS ambulance service is operating on a volunteer basis while the company is being restructured.
Gary Harrison, chairman of the service's board, said the ambulance service is dealing with financial problems and needed to lay off the paid employees while they developed a plan for moving forward.
“We're doing some restructuring,” Harrison said. “We didn't close down or go bankrupt or lose our license — which is what some of the rumors have been.”
Harrison said he notified Westmoreland County's 911 dispatching center this week that Arnold Fire-EMS is a voluntary service and should be jointly dispatched with New Kensington's ambulance service.
A New Kensington ambulance representative did not return a call for comment Thursday.
Dan Stevens, spokesman for Westmoreland County's emergency management, said he had not heard of Arnold Fire-EMS' change in status.
Harrison said any willing employees can go on calls as volunteers.
In addition, he said the Arnold No. 1 Volunteer Fire Company will be dispatched whenever calls involve someone who may need medical assistance such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation or an automated external defibrillator (AED) for heart problems.
Harrison, who also is fire chief of Arnold No. 1, said many firefighters also have emergency medical training. The volunteers can offer medical assistance until New Kensington paramedics arrive.
Like many other ambulance companies in the region, Harrison said his company is dealing with problems with reimbursements from health insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid running well below the actual costs of service.
Plus, with Arnold's population shrinking, the service likely can no longer justify staffing two crews 24 hours per day, Harrison said.
“There's not enough business,” he said.
One of the considerations for restructuring will be running just one crew around the clock.
Harrison couldn't immediately detail the service's operating budget or anticipated deficit. He said he recently became board chairman and, with cuts they've tried to make, the service's finances are murky.
“It's changed drastically,” he said.
He estimated the service has about 15 paid employees, some working full time and others part time.
He said they will be eligible to collect unemployment. He said many also work for other ambulance companies.
“Unfortunately, they don't make a lot of money, so many have more than one job,” he said.
Harrison did not have a time frame for when service would be restored.
“It seems to be a temporary issue we hope to have fixed in the near future,” he said.
Although not directly affiliated with Arnold No. 1, Arnold Fire-EMS board members are members of the fire company, Harrison said.
The fire station revived the ambulance service in 2006 after a prior, for-profit service went bankrupt in 2005.
Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Alle-Kiski Valley economic development group honored for police training
- PennDOT wants Rock Airport in West Deer to remain open
- Renter tries to battle New Kensington house fire
- Avonmore parents enter disabled child in contest for wheelchair-accessible van
- ‘Cross on the Hill’ a special sight for residents
- 4-year-old’s death from brain cancer won’t stop fight in her name
- Fire destroys Frazer home; family was out at the time
- New Kensington police decline to identify stabbing victims amid investigation