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Rennerdale, Kirwan Heights EMS partner on advanced life support

| Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, 3:57 p.m.

The Rennerdale Volunteer Fire Department in Collier has partnered with Kirwan Heights EMS as its advanced life support backup.

Rennerdale ambulances are equipped only with basic life support equipment. Previously, if advanced life support was needed, Carnegie EMS acted as backup.

“It's been a long time coming,” said Rennerdale VFD president Andy Giroski.

The merger became official Oct. 21, though there had been negotiations off and on for nearly a decade.

Previously, no departments in Collier had advanced life support capabilities, so Rennerdale had to seek services outside the township, he said.

“Now that we have those advanced resources within, we want to utilize Collier resources,” he said.

Kirwan Heights Fire Department President Andy Wissell Jr. said the agreement not only allows Kirwan Heights to provide emergency medical services to Rennerdale, but it consolidates work at the two departments.

“We're just all working together to come up with a staffing plan,” he said. “It's helping with lowering response time on that side of Collier.”

Kirwan Heights, which employs paid paramedics, will staff the Rennerdale ambulance during the day. During evenings, Rennerdale volunteers will staff the Rennerdale ambulance.

In addition to hospital transport, Kirwan Heights EMS provides transportation to those unable to use personal vehicles for trips to and from doctor's appointments and rehabilitation or nursing homes, for example.

“A lot of times, people who are released from the hospital to rehab or a nursing home are not able to use their personal vehicle,” Wissell said. “We've been doing that for 10 years, and now with the merger with Rennerdale, all residents there get those services, too.”

Giroski said Collier residents will not see any changes to emergency services in the township.

What will change, he said, is that two ambulances and four medics will respond to calls within Rennerdale — a Rennderdale ambulance and a Kirwan Heights ambulance.

“The benefit of this is that, in the terrible event of medical backup being needed, it will be there already,” he said.

Kirwan Heights also provides emergency medical services to Heidelberg. Wissell said things have gone smoothly since the merger took effect.

“We're just trying to make sure we're able to provide an ambulance to anyone in the township or Heidelberg when they need it,” he said.

The department has been able to handle all requests, though it does have mutual aid contracts with other EMS providers, he said

“We always try to manage and make sure there's enough staff there at peak times,” he said. “We want residents to see the friendly faces they're used to seeing instead of an ambulance from out of town.”

Township commission President Bob Schuler said the merger is significant.

“This agreement is truly a milestone for not only the two fire companies, but also Collier Township,” he said.

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or mguza@tribweb.com.

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