Twp Loses Round the Clock Ambulance Service
By Wayne Witkowski
DINGMANS FERRY -- Delaware Township will no longer have around-the-clock ambulance services available within the township.
That bombshell news was delivered by Kyle Wright, head of Delaware Valley Emergency Services Inc. of Milford, to the township Board of Supervisors in an executive session lasting nearly an hour that delayed the start of the regular meeting last week.
"It's started already," said a resident attending the regular meeting of the cut hours after the supervisors and Solicitor Tom Farley relayed the news to the public.
"It's not going to be 24/7," said Farley of the services, and pointed out only two days a week will have around-the-clock coverage: Tuesday and Thursday. "Apparently, this has been going on for (the past) two weeks."
There is no longer any coverage on Mondays and Saturdays. There is daytime coverage only on Wednesday and daytime coverage only on every other Friday and Sunday. Farley pointed out there would be night coverage only on Tuesday and Thursday.
"What are we supposed to do when there is an emergency and we have no services available," asked resident Ron Hough.
Farley said the times when there is no township ambulance service, residents are advised to call 911 and an ambulance will be dispatched from another regional service such as Bushkill Emergency Corps or EMS Services in Milford.
A shortage of volunteer manpower for the Delaware Township Ambulance Corps is the core issue. The ambulance corps provides Basic Life Support services and Delaware Valley Emergency Services, which signed a private contract with the ambulance corps, provides life-threatening Advanced Life Support services. Members of the gathering at the general meeting pointed out that the ambulance corps is down to one volunteer, and that person is certified as a paramedic.
Township Administrator Krista Predmore said after the regular meeting it was not established which days would have either or both ALS and BLS services.
Mary Lou Corbett, head of the volunteer ambulance corps who regularly attends Board of Supervisors meetings, was not in attendance. Corbett could not be reached afterward for comment.
Nancy Janiec. of the township Fire Police said she understands that Corbett and another individual are the only two members of the volunteer ambulance corps still serving on the Board of Directors and said there are rumors that Corbett is stepping down.
Members of the gathering at the meeting said that volunteers have left over the past two years since the volunteer ambulance corps signed a private contract with DVES, which pays its employees to provide technically trained ALS service for life-threatening situations, such as heart attack, stroke or drug overdose. DVES also provides some BLS coverage.
"Dedicated volunteers for the ambulance corps have been dwindling for a long time," said township Emergency Management Coordinator George Beodeker. "We need to talk to people who used to volunteer and ask them what can motivate them to re-volunteer on the BLS side."
Supervisors said local governments are looking to subsidize workers rather than rely on volunteers as a solution.
"We have a problem we were alerted to tonight and we're working to resolve it," said Board of Supervisors Chairman John Henderson firmly later in the discussion.
Also at the regular meeting, Pike County District Attorney Ray Tonkin gave a detailed presentation in which he is asking municipalities to collect a $1 fee per resident to go into a separate account toward funding a new county detective who would focus on crimes involving narcotics. He said the money -- approximately $100,000 -- would go toward salary, benefits, purchase of equipment that would include firearms, along with training and operating expenses. "That person would be augmented by our (other) county detectives," Tonkin said.
Tonkin said he has spoken to other municipalities and three expressed interest. He said the position would come in response to a rise in crimes from heroin trafficking, much of it brought in from Paterson, New Jersey.
"What happens if you don't come up with the money (needed), maybe half of it," Henderson asked.
"I'm encouraged by the response but if it does not come to the level needed, we'd have to return the money and come back to it next year," Tonkin answered.
Resident Steve McBride asked, if it is that important, why the county commissioners can't levy their own tax. "This is not the way to do it. Lertting the commissioners off the hook is not the way to do it," McBride said.
Farley, who also is solicitor for Pike County, said in a heated exchange with McBride that the commissioners have been actively involved in the issue.
"The burden of government officials is not to go on the old ways but to find new, innovative ways to try to accomplish this," Tonkin responded.
Henderson said he has talked with the county and that it is looking at its funding as well.
"Are you looking to establish this (position) as a career path," Beodeker asked Tonkin, who said it could be someone with experience such as a member of the county detective's office or a retired police officer.
Budget has no tax increase
The township announced it will have a budget meeting on Dec. 5 and will vote on the 2019 General Budget during the Dec. 19 regular meeting. The proposed 2019 General Budget has no tax increase. It projects a total income of $1,259,152.25 and total expenses of $1,257,564.09. That projected surplus would go into the General Reserve Fund, said Supervisor Jane Neufeld. The budget draft is available for public scrutiny at the municipal building.
There has not been a tax increase since 2008; however, taxes will not be decreased as they were in three recent years -- the 2012, 2013 and 2016 fiscal years.
The total millage rate remains at 11.68, which is comprised of an 8.68 township millage, a 1.5 millage rate for the township volunteer fire department, and 1.5 mills for the township Parks and Recreation Fund.
The Parks and Rec Fund is projected at a $159,172.10 in expenses for 2019. The Fire Tax Fund is $145,600.
The board agreed to replace its elected auditors with a certified public accounting firm.
The board will hold its Non-Tower Wireless Communication Facilities Ordinance Amendments Public Hearing during the Dec. 19 meeting at 7:15 p.m.
Also at the regular meeting, Liz Forrest was appointed as the township representative to the Pike County Solid Waste Advisory Committee. ... The board agreed to waive permit fes for a Habitat for Humanity of Pike County pertaining to the home at 195 Mountain Top Drive in Pocono Mountain Lake Estates in Dingmans Ferry.
Henderson announced that, in a declared emergency, the township has set up with four regional radio stations for information updates: Pocono 96.7, Country 107.7, WYNY 106.9 and Wall Radio out of Middletown New York at 340 AM. ... Delaware Township's Christmas at Akenac Park takes place 4-8 p.m. on Dec. 8.
The Board of Supervisors will have its reorganization meeting 7 p.m.on Jan. 7 and the township Planning Commission will have its reorganization meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 15. Township Auditors have scheduled their reorganization meeting for 6 p.m. on Jan. 8.