Manheim Ambulance board members attended the annual Northwest EMS banquet.
Northwest Emergency Medical Services and Manheim Veterans Memorial Ambulance will be merging as of October 1. The two community-based organizations foresee challenges in coming years as healthcare reimbursement undergoes changes. The governing boards of both realize that a partnership will best serve the needs of area residents and provide for long-term financial viability.
In a letter to employees and volunteers, Lori Shenk, president of the Manheim Ambulance board of directors, said that the primary goal is to provide the community with the highest quality pre-hospital care available. “This decision was not made after a few conversations, but rather after months and years of building relationships that are solid and professional,” Shenk said. “While it is not an easy decision to make, we believe it is the right decision. It is our belief that we will stand stronger if we stand together, and that this relationship should not detract from the service we provide, but rather enhance and improve what are already our strengths.”
“The board of Northwest EMS shares Lori’s optimism for the merger of our organizations,” Dale Ressler, president of the board, said. “There is a long road ahead as we work out the details of corporate structure, staffing and company cultures. We know that we will emerge as a stronger EMS service, better able to care for residents of our communities.”
The expanded service will operate under the Northwest EMS name, and the Northwest EMS board will add three seats for members of the Manheim Ambulance board. Manheim’s annual subscription appeal to residents is mailed in September, so it will show its old name a final time this year. Subscriptions will be honored by Northwest EMS. Similar arrangements were made when the Maytown-East Donegal Township Ambulance and the Bainbridge Ambulance merged with Northwest EMS in the mid-2000s.
Northwest EMS will cover the Manheim area 24 hours a day with an Advanced Life Support ambulance, staffed by a paramedic and an EMT. This crew can provide advanced care such as cardiac monitoring and administration of medications as well as basic care. A Basic Life Support ambulance, staffed by two EMTs, will be in service 10 hours a day initially, with the possibility of additional hours if call volume increases. Manheim Ambulance’s wheelchair transport service will continue as before. The Manheim volunteers will continue to serve on the ambulance. The 15 paid EMTs can apply for positions with Northwest EMS.
Northwest EMS will continue to operate the ambulance service from the old Manheim firehouse at 26 E. High Street. The community service projects that area residents have known, such as CPR classes, ambulance visits to schools and first-aid coverage at the Manheim Community Farm Show, will continue as well.
The main station and office of Northwest EMS is at 380 W. Bainbridge Street, Elizabethtown. This station houses seven ambulances, two wheelchair vans, a Chevy Suburban and an All Terrain Vehicle on a trailer. It also houses a mass casualty trailer containing an inflatable field hospital and equipment to triage and treat victims at natural or man-made disasters. The Maytown station, at 188 Rock Point Road, contains one Advanced Life Support Ambulance staffed 24 hours a day.
Manheim Ambulance answered 1,700 calls in 2012. Northwest EMS had 5,562 emergency calls and 1,441 non-emergency transports last year.
The two organizations have a lot in common. Manheim Ambulance was created by the local VFW members in 1948, just a year after the Elizabethtown Fire Department added an ambulance service that became the independent Northwest EMS in 2000. Both are non-profit organizations overseen by directors who live in the communities served by these EMS services.
All EMS services and fire companies in the county have numerical designators for radio communications. The merged organizations will drop their 2-6 (Manheim) and 7-4 (Northwest EMS) designations and be given a new number to be determined.