Community

EMS Crisis Calls for Local Solution

Municipalities in Pennsylvania are responsible for many things – parks and recreation facilities, police services, snow removal and stormwater management to name a few. But did you know that municipalities are also required by state law to ensure the provision of emergency medical services? They are. And EMS services in our community, and our region, are in jeopardy.

 

The Local EMS Crisis

 EMS services in our community are provided by Northwest EMS, a non-profit organization. Northwest EMS was recognized in 2020 as the Pennsylvania EMS Agency of the Year, awarded by the Pennsylvania Emergency Health Services Council and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Unfortunately, however, the organization’s future is at risk. Why? Insufficient revenue from subscriptions, municipal contributions and insurance reimbursements, combined with rising costs.

Northwest EMS has operated at a deficit for the past six years. These deficits have been covered by proceeds from the organization’s investments, but those investments continue to decline. The expected deficit for 2022 is over $500,000. Unless this crisis is addressed, Northwest EMS will be insolvent in a few years.

Northwest EMS is not alone. This is a state-wide crisis and other areas of the state are faced with losing essential emergency services, or facing reductions in service and long wait times, for what could be life-or-death situations.

 

The Local Solution

Municipal leaders in the region and Northwest EMS’ Board of Directors have been meeting since 2018 to confront this crisis. At the start of 2021, a committee of municipal leaders and Northwest EMS leaders began studying the situation in earnest and exploring alternatives.

The committee is proposing the creation of a regional Emergency Services Authority to address the challenges that jeopardize essential emergency services in our community and fulfill the statutory requirement for municipalities to provide EMS services with more fiscal stability. As a collaboration among municipalities, the Authority would provide emergency medical services and EMS administrative support to municipalities throughout its service area. It is believed to be the best step forward, and the most fiscally responsible option, to ensure that EMS services continue to be available, potentially saving your life or the life of your loved one.

 

Community Funded

As proposed, the authority creates an opportunity to replace municipal contributions and membership contributions with a reasonable and uniform annual fee to property owners, on par with today’s Northwest EMS subscription rates.

The annual fee is estimated to be between $70-$85 per residential housing unit (or $6-7 per month). Separate tiers would be set for commercial and institutional properties.

Founding municipalities would each have representation on the Authority’s Board, which once incorporated will be responsible for determining the actual fees. The Authority would advertise and hold public hearings to allow the community to have a voice on proposed services and rates. The community will then continue to have a voice in the Authority, even after it is formed.

 

EMS Services You’ll Receive

What would you receive from the regional Emergency Services Authority?

  • Readiness to answer calls if emergency medical services are needed
  • No residual bills for EMS services if your insurance pays toward an ambulance bill
  • 50% off your ambulance bill if you have no insurance or if your entire bill goes toward your insurance deductible

The regional Emergency Services Authority would become the new entity to provide EMS in our community. The Authority would consist of the same outstanding people and deliver the same outstanding service for which Northwest EMS is known.

 

Learn More and Support EMS

Municipalities that have passed resolutions indicating interest in exploring and possibly joining the regional Emergency Services Authority are Clay Township, Conewago Township, Conoy Township, East Donegal Township, Elizabethtown Borough, Elizabeth Township, Manheim Borough, Marietta Borough, Mount Joy Township, Penn Township, Rapho Township and West Donegal Township.

While the EMS crisis and proposed regional Emergency Services Authority has been discussed at numerous public meetings and reported in local news media, you are encouraged to learn more by visiting SavingEMSforNWLancaster.org. There you’ll find frequently asked questions and an anticipated timeline.

Based on the current timeline for the proposed Authority, the earliest EMS services would transition from Northwest EMS to the new Authority is the start of 2024. Northwest EMS will continue to provide EMS services to our community in 2023 and will be conducting its annual subscription campaign this fall to help fund its operations for the year. Please watch your mailbox for Northwest EMS’s subscription mailer and consider subscribing for 2023.

EMS is an essential public service. It is essential that, as a community, we ensure that emergency services continue to be ready and available to answer the call.

Northwest Region Comprehensive Plan – Public Input Survey

Mount Joy Township and our regional partners are updating the Northwest Region Comprehensive Plan – and your input is needed! Your feedback helps us understand the issues that are important to you. By responding to this survey, you will help shape the next twenty years within the Northwest region – and preserve the places and things we love about Lancaster County.

Survey

Link to Lancaster County Planning Department’s Survey Landing Page

The 5 Big Ideas

The Lancaster County comprehensive plan (called places2040) and the plan for the Northwest Region focus on five big ideas or goals:

  • Creating Great Places is all about making Lancaster County a place we’re proud to call home. We do this by keeping our communities safe and vibrant, but also by ensuring that our residents have options when it comes to housing, transportation, and jobs. Great places create a sense of belonging and serve as the backbone to our local economies.
  • Connecting People, Place, and Opportunity means connecting students with schools, jobs with housing, or workers with jobs. Our transportation network should also include more safe ways for people, bicycles, and public transport to get around.
  • Taking Care of What We Have is about preserving the things that make Lancaster County a special place: our farmland, natural areas, and urban places. We should also protect our farmers, support new and existing businesses, improve water quality, and maintain public utilities.
  • Growing Responsibly helps us to accommodate the growth we expect to see by 2040. Much of that growth actually comes from within Lancaster County. We need to grow where we’re already growing, limit large suburban lots in rural areas, and build more compact communities.
  • Thinking Beyond Boundaries is about doing things differently. Rather than looking at municipal borders as a barrier, we should see our communities as part of the bigger picture. Working together regionally is an important part of thinking beyond boundaries.
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