Johnsonburg Fire Department cuts ambulance services

JOHNSONBURG – The Johnsonburg Borough Council will have to choose who will provide QRS [quick response services] services to residents of the Borough of Johnsonburg and north Ridgway Township following a suggestion from council member Duane Duffy to extricate the Johnsonburg Fire Department from providing the service.Duffy's suggestion proceeded a letter from the fire department stating that they will cease to provide basic life support [BLS] and ambulance transport services to be effective 11:59 p.m. on June 30. The letter was read aloud by Borough Manager Mary Polaski:"The decision to cease providing BLS transport services is based on a number of factors, but is primarily related to a declining number of qualified volunteers to staff our ambulances on a 24-hour per day basis," Polaski read. "The Johnsonburg Fire Department is currently dual-licensed as both a BLS ambulance service and a quick response service. Please be advised we plan to maintain our QRS license. This will grant us the opportunity to provide life saving QRS services to the residents of Johnsonburg borough and north Ridgway Township. "In order to assure an orderly and effective transition of EMS transport services within our service area, we are requesting the Johnsonburg Borough officially designate the Johnsonburg Fire Department as your QRS service."Borough Solicitor Elizabeth Feronti advised the council to designate the fire department as the QRS service provider and that a primary ambulance provider would need to be approved during the next regular meeting. "I have a problem with the QRS service because we are addressing the ambulance now because there is not enough manpower to run the ambulance," Duffy said. "My first question is if we continue with QRS here who pays for liability insurance on those people when they go to the ambulance? My thought is to transfer the whole thing to a provider and they provide everything."Council member Alfred Maletto noted that the fire department has been providing QRS services for the last 10 years using the rescue and squad trucks. "There is no expense; it is already there," Maletto said. "The training is something they keep up. The fire department has always paid for their training."Duffy said whichever ambulance service is contracted should provide all of the services."My thought is if we are addressing the ambulance now it should be addressed as a total entity and not 'piece-mealed,'" Duffy said. Next MeetingJohnsonburgBorough CouncilWhen: Monday, June 11Where: Borough OfficeTime: 4 p.m.Pick up a copy of the Tuesday, May 15, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.