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Annual fee offers unlimited Shaler EMS ambulance trips

| Wednesday, March 30, 2016, 9:00 p.m.
Norman Phillips, who started 1996, and Rachel Young, who began in 2012, work to prepare the ambulance for the next call at Shaler EMS.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Norman Phillips, who started 1996, and Rachel Young, who began in 2012, work to prepare the ambulance for the next call at Shaler EMS.

For an annual fee as low as $35, subscribers to Shaler EMS do not have to pay for a medically necessary emergency ambulance ride.

There is no limit on trips that are covered.

“If I use an ambulance in Shaler Township, I don't have to pay a copay,” said Joe Johnson, manager of Shaler EMS. “If you're a subscriber, we're eating that deductible.”

The subscription service began as a way to help Medicare patients to cover gaps in their insurance coverage. Johnson said senior citizens have been some of the most dedicated subscribers, but with changes to insurance in recent years the subscription service is a valuable asset to people of all ages.

Many insurance plans have a high copay for ambulance services or have a high deductible, making a trip in an ambulance seem like a luxury rather than a necessity in times of need.

However, a subscription to Shaler EMS takes the thought out of it when an emergency arises, Johnson said.

“The peace of mind it brings, that's priceless,” Johnson said.

Shaler EMS, incorporated in 1992 as a nonprofit.

The subscriptions not only benefit residents, but have also become an important part of the EMS's annual budget, making up about 25 percent of the budget, Johnson said.

“It's a big comfort to us, as well as our citizens, to have a well-trained, well-staffed EMS,” township Manager Tim Rogers said. “One of the things that stands apart with Shaler EMS is the amount of support they get from the community.”

The subscription drive opened March 1, but residents can subscribe at any time throughout the year. There are several subscription levels to choose from; $35 for Individual; $50 for Family, which covers all permanent residents at an address; and $70 for Family Plus, which covers all residents and any guests who may need an ambulance while at that address.

The Family Plus plan was added after requests from grandparents and other family members who were babysitting children over the summer, and has become one of the more popular plans, Johnson said.

Because Shaler EMS is part of the North East Ambulance Alliance, subscribers are also covered in most communities throughout the North Hills and many of Pittsburgh's suburbs, ranging from Cranberry to Lower Burrell and Plum.

A complete list of municipalities covered can be found at shalerems.com.

For more information on how to subscribe to Shaler EMS, visit shalerems.com or call 412-487-0162.

Rachel Farkas is a contributing writer for the Tribune-Review.

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