Op/Ed: Ambulance companies are sending 911 call for funding help

By A.J. McCarthy, Chief, Longwood Fire Company

A.J. McCarthy

The severe fiscal plight of ambulance services across Pennsylvania was highlighted this week in an editorial in neighboring Lancaster County. That same editorial could have been written about ambulance services in Chester County as the same frightening facts are applicable.

Dean Bollendorf, president of the Ambulance Association of Pennsylvania, was quoted as saying there are “some emergency ambulance services that won’t be here in the next six months.” Indeed, Lancaster County in the past two decades has lost more than half of their ambulance services while seeing the population increase.

Longwood Fire Company will survive and will continue to serve our residents as the company has done since 1921 but we are struggling to cope with increased costs and lessening reimbursements.

Having qualified, highly professional and trained personnel available to respond at a moment’s notice to medical emergencies is not a luxury. Residents rightfully expect help will respond when needed.

The editorial stated ambulance companies are “being hit hard by stagnant reimbursement rates, the growing number of people who can’t afford to pay on their own and the surge in heroin overdoses.” The editorial stated Lancaster ambulance companies are purchasing Narcan in large quantities to treat heroin overdoses.

Longwood Fire Company relies on the generously of the people we serve, insurance reimbursements and governmental contributions to pay our bills. Our expenses are high. We need contributions to keep on our lights and for equipment, training and all phases of operations.

We are not a government agency that is fully funded by taxpayer dollars. We are a non-profit organization that utilizes many faithful volunteers to keep down costs. If a way is not found to reimburse our costs additional ambulance companies will disband. Our governmental leaders must work together to find a solution to the funding issues facing fire and ambulance companies.

A piece of legislation has been introduced in the United States Senate to increase insurance reimbursements. That’s a start. All federal, state and local elected officials should answer the 911 call ambulance companies are sending to them and respond immediately.

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