HANOVER TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Ambulance crews help save lives each and every day but the reality is financial struggles are forcing more and more to close and others to merge. As Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller explains, one NEPA ambulance group is navigating through these critical times in part with an assist from a state program.
It’s been said there is no progress without pain. In the case of the construction project that is the future home of Hanover Township Community Ambulance Association, that pain is financial. “Costs are always an issue,” said Hanover Township Community Ambulance Association Chief Chris Woolfolk.
That construction cost does not include the ambulance association’s annual $1.3 million operating budget. It’s why Chief Woolfolk says a nearly $218,000 low interest fixed rate state loan the association received this week is so vital. “The loan, the state fire loan we got for the two percent for a little over $200,000 helps in a facility that’s going to cost us roughly a million dollars.”
The loan is made possible through Pennsylvania’s Volunteer Loan Assistance Program which supports groups like Woolfolk’s. Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski (D) Luzerne County said, “They do need help. They do need support. Most of the people are volunteers. You know, we have so many volunteer fire companies, over 1,700 in the state of Pennsylvania and I’m not sure that people realize that saves the taxpayers about $6 billion a year.”
Since Hanover Township Community Ambulance Association is not a tax-based service, it needs more than one lifeline to stay financially afloat. Chief Woolfolk said, “It’s a struggle every day. Our reimbursements are down, our call volume is up.”
The association depends on an annual community fund drive and is also counting on one of the new future facility’s features. Once the building is complete it will feature a roughly 40 foot long “Giving Wall” right in the middle of this public access area. It will allow the community to financially sponsor in memory or in honor of a loved one whose name will appear on that wall.
Chief Woolfolk is counting on community help to help the very community the association serves. “It’s not always guaranteed that there’s going to be an ambulance there if people don’t support their local ambulance services.”
Construction of Hanover Township’s new ambulance headquarters is expected to be completed by May.