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Laurel Valley EMS squelches rumors

| Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, 9:02 p.m.

Amid concerns and rumors about the state of affairs for Laurel Valley EMS, the council of New Florence Borough invited members of the company to speak at the September meeting. Bob Topper, CEO of Tri-Conn Alternative Services, which manages the ambulance service, said that there is no plan to leave Laurel Valley any time soon.

“We are going nowhere. We have no intentions on leaving,” Topper stated. “Where the rumors came up that whether we were going to give notice or pull out under the cover of darkness, or any of the other things are false. Are we having some challenging times financially? Yes we are. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that in EMS there is only one way to make money, and that is to take ambulance calls. Ninety-eight percent of our revenue is generated through third-party billing. So the only way we can generate enough money to keep the doors open at Laurel Valley EMS is to run enough calls.”

Topper explained that there are not enough emergencies in the Laurel Valley area, which includes New Florence, Fairfield, St. Clair and Seward, to keep the ambulance service up and running 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week. In order for Laurel Valley EMS to stay up and running, it is necessary to take calls in other jurisdictions. What this means, Topper went on, is that there will be times when the ambulance service will not be available for local emergencies.

“Having an ambulance service some of the time is better than having no ambulance all the time,” Topper commented.

In other news:

• Cindy Stevenson, president of the Cat Committee of Mount Pleasant presented information on a program called Trap/Neuter/Return, asking for the council's endorsement. Stevenson said this program is a solution to overpopulation of stray cats, whereby volunteers work with residents to trap nuisance cats, take them to veterinary clinics, where they are spayed or neutered, as well as given a rabies vaccination, and are then released.

“Although Trap/Neuter/Return is not an instant solution, I do not think it is a perfect solution either, it is the best solution that anybody has come up with yet,” Stevenson said. “The effort is to number one, stop the reproduction; you have the cat spayed or neutered so that there aren't any more kittens. That stabilizes the colony, it makes the cats healthier, and it turns them into better neighbors. A lot of times the complaints people have about stray cats are they're fighting; there is all that screeching. The same kind of noise and behavior goes with mating as it does with fighting. Once they're spayed or neutered, a lot of that behavior goes away.”

According to Stevenson, in the five years that the program has been running, volunteers have successfully trapped more than 800 cats in an area including Mt. Pleasant, Connelsville, Acme, Donegal and the Ligonier Valley.

Council president offered up the council's approval saying, “It sounds like a step in the right direction. We applaud the work on that.”

The next meeting of the Council of New Florence Borough will be 7:30 p.m. Oct. 15 at the borough's municipal offices.

Peter Turcik is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.