Exeter hears fire-based EMS proposal

Emergency services in Exeter Township are discussing the beginning stages of consolidation.

Exeter Township Fire Department Fire Chief Robert F. Jordan and Deputy Chief Christopher D. Chamberlain presented an initial proposal to Exeter Township Supervisors Thursday, Dec. 5 at a special meeting.

The proposal suggests a fire-based EMS service, which would combine the Exeter Township Fire Department and Exeter Ambulance Association, to focus on emergency 9-1-1 calls.

If the consolidation occurs, Chamberlain said they are hoping to provide service within four to six months.

Currently, the EAA has two ambulances; one runs 24 hours, one runs 12 hours.

Through the fire departments proposal, they envision have two 24-hour ambulances with a third, cross-staffed with an engine, to serve as a backup.

Chamberlain stressed that while this is something new, other departments have had much success by going to a fire-based EMS service.

Exeter Township Fire Department spoke with other departments in Honeybrook, Pottstown, Paoli, Berwyn, Reading, Radnor and Philadelphia.

In the model, responders would be cross-trained in both fire and EMS duties, creating a staff of multiple-use personnel.

Supervisor Gary Lloyd hopes this model could off-set the tax increase for Exeter Township residents.

This is a progressive, innovative and fiscally minded service delivery model, Chamberlain said. He continued with saying that the community of Exeter Township is growing and combining operations of fire and EMS is the way to go.

The combined service, however, will not provide non-emergency transportation or wheelchair services.

The fire department suggests a total of $261.886.26 in revenue/savings from moving to a fire-based EMS service.

First year start up costs are estimated at $1,075,421.84. Supervisor Lloyd stated he is heavily in favor of the township using existing unused funds to pay for the initial start-up costs, which results in the township owning the EMS vehicles.

Chamberlain explained that the work schedule for responders would be set up as 24-hours on, 72-hours off.

We did some research on that... the [shift provides] sufficient amount of work time balanced with a sufficient amount of rest, Chamberlain said.

Billing services will be handled by a third party contractor initially.

The fire department said they have not have any formal discussions yet with EAA.

At the supervisors request, EAA and ETFD will meet to further discuss the model and report back to the township at their Dec. 23 meeting.

We look forward to further dialogue with the Exeter Ambulance Association and the township board of supervisors, Chamberlain told The Southern Berks News.

About the Author

Emily Thiel

Emily Thiel is the editor of The Southern Berks News and is the Community Engagement Editor for Berks-Mont Newspapers. Emily joined Berks-Mont in March 2013. She graduated from Kutztown University in 2011 with a degree in English with a concentration in Cultural and Media Studies. Emily is a native of Allentown, Pa. Reach the author at ethiel@berksmontnews.com or follow Emily on Twitter: @sthrnberksnews.