Town's Private Ambulance Plan on Hold

Volunteer ambulance crew would be partially displaced by a privatization deal

Officials in a Delaware County town are putting a plan to partially privatize its ambulance service on hold -- for now.

A spokesman for the Springfield Township Board of Directors says town leaders and members of the Springfield Ambulance Corps are working toward a deal to keep the volunteer organization as the primary ambulance operators.

The change comes following a meeting between both sides on Friday. first told you last month how the town of 23,000 was ready to sign a deal that would make an ambulance crew from Crozer-Keystone Health System the primary ambulance operators on weekday mornings and afternoons. The move would displace the Springfield Ambulance Corps, who have served the town for the past 65 years, during that time.

Township officials said the move was to ensure the town had enough ambulances to cover the need and cut down on the number of times officials have to ask other towns to come in and answer an emergency call. Called, mutual aid, such calls adds additional response time and costs, officials said.

The ambulance corps fought the move, saying it was unnecessary, would ruin the corps and cost residents more money. The 90-member organization runs a program that offers residents two free ambulance rides a year in exchange for a $25 donation. Corps leaders say the private crew isn't legally allowed to forgive the cost -- which can run from $80 to $300 or more.

"The leadership of the Springfield Board of Commissioners and Springfield Ambulance Corps met today and had a very productive discussion about how they can work together to address the issue of missed emergency response calls and calls requiring mutual aid,” said Pete Peterson, spokesperson for Springfield Township.

"The respective leaders of the board and corps have agreed that it makes more sense to benchmark the issue of missed calls and need for mutual aid and attempt to correct them with the current system in place," he said.

Peterson says both sides will now meet separately with their organizations and try and hammer out a plan. He says if an agreement can be reached, the Crozer deal would disappear.

That deal was set to begin on Jan. 1, 2014.

Contact Vince Lattanzio at 610.668.5532, or follow @VinceLattanzio on Twitter.

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