Columbia and Montour Counties Join 9-1-1 Forces

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MONTOUR AND COLUMBIA COUNTIES (WBRE/WYOU) During an emergency, seconds can mean the difference between life or death.
      For several area ambulance services, however, those seconds are becoming minutes because the number of calls is increasing, while the money to operate is down.   Eyewitness News Reporter Cody Butler has our story

Montour and Columbia County commissioners and others called a special meeting Wednesday to discuss increasing concerns about ambulance services in their region.

 
“Poor reimbursements, problem with staffing… Finding qualified staff.” George Widger, spelled out the reason.   He is with Greater Columbia Medical Transport Services.

Widger attributes that to State regulations and training costs.
Which is hurting even the smallest volunteer departments.

 “The closing of all the BLS (basic life support) Services is just straining the ones still surviving ” added Delcy Long, of the Berwick Ambulance Company.

Picking up the slack is costing an arm and a leg…says delcy long.
Each 911 call costs her department 340 dollars. The reimbursement is around 240 dollars..

 

And because they can’t even break even on a call – Ambulance and Volunteer companies are slowly going out of business.

This all adds up increasingly slow response times as those operations still in business have to cover the areas of those which have folded.

And the lack of enough trained medics can shut down the ability to response after just a single call until that unit can go back in service.

 
“We have to find a way to make them more financially stable so we’re not putting even more demands and stresses on the ones that are left.” noted Delcy Long

County officials say all the calls are being answered and responded to properly – it’s just where the closest ambulance is available that makes response time quicker or slower.
   One commissioner told us the only answer is to find additional funding.
     The problem is finding out where the money would come from.
  
 

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