On Nov. 12, the Springfield Board of Township Commissioners voted to sign a contract that reassigns the primary weekday 9-1-1 ambulance dispatch calls from the Springfield Ambulance Corps (The Corps) to instead be routed to an ambulance provided by the Crozer-Keystone Health System (CKHS).
Due to these changes The Corps, whose volunteers have been the sole responders for 65 years, fear they will eventually be forced to shut their doors. The Corps board members claim the changes in service will ultimately displace them, resulting in new costs to residents in the form of insurance copays and taxpayer dollars.
The Corps, with 90 trained community volunteers, have never in their existence collected a single tax dollar.
It is unclear why CKHS was selected for the township contract. There was no public notice or open bid issued, or study of the effectiveness of volunteer ambulance services versus a for-profit private service or hospital partnerships such as this one with CKHS.
The township claims there is no conflict of interest for CKHS as patients will be transported to the nearest or most appropriate hospital rather than exclusively to a CKHS facility. The Corps is unaffiliated with any health system and has no conflict of interest. The township claims that there are no additional costs at this point although the new contract will have paid staff rather than volunteers.
The news has dealt a fierce blow to this closely knit and passionate group of volunteers who consider themselves a family. With the changes, The Corps board members say the revenue from evening and weekend hours will not be enough to sustain them.
Without the frequency of calls during primary hours, they’ll lose the revenue from insurance claims that currently earns them an annual surplus. The Corps has reinvested this surplus in a variety of free public services for the township including CPR and first aid training, free emergency coverage at local sporting events, free automated external defibrillators (AED’s) for public buildings and more.
What is alarming to many is that this is happening behind closed doors and without the opportunity for public discourse. A few residents that are aware have expressed confusion and anger at the decision that affects their health and safety in an emergency. The Corps Board President Kelly Sweeney says, “Our main concern is for our residents who know us and whom we’ve served proudly for 65 years, that they will ultimately suffer and that they weren’t given a choice.”
Concerned residents are asked to attend a public workshop township meeting to discuss the changes on Dec. 3, 50 Powell Road. Or they may call the commissioners office at 610-544-1300. More information can be found at http://SaveYourAmbulance.Com
About Springfield Ambulance Corps: The Springfield Ambulance Corps, comprised of 90 trained community volunteers, has provided 911 emergency medical services for the residents of Springfield Township, and the surrounding areas, for over 65 years, without collecting a single tax dollar. http://www.springfieldems.com