Dingman: 37 Percent Of Calls Go To Delaware
Pike County Dispatch
By Wayne Witkowski
DINGMANS FERRY -- Mark O'Brien, chief of the Dingman Township Volunteer Fire Company that also provides round-the-clock ambulance service, discussed with Delaware Township supervisors during their workshop on Wednesday last week prior to their regular meeting about his company's response as a backup emergency services alternative for Delaware Township residents when other local services are unavailable.
O'Brien had sent a letter earlier in the fall to the supervisors requesting a $27,500 donation from the township to cover costs for medical responses for Delaware Township residents. In that Oct. 19 letter, O'Brien said the donation would help alleviate expenses from the "37 percent of the incidents responded to in Delaware Township" by Dingman ambulances.
"We can't hardball if patients are not covered by Medicare or Medicaid," said O'Brien during the workshop, although he said that his company does remind patients that, if they receive a reimbursement check from Medicare of Medicaid, that they sign it over to his company.
O'Brien handed out a rundown of services to the supervisors during his presentation, which includes the number of responses when Delaware Township Volunteer Ambulance Corps services are not available due to their limited schedule and fewer personnel.
"We don't mind coming down (to Delaware Township)," said O'Brien. "Our issue is of the 'out of service' (by DTVAC) for their number of hours."
In his report, O'Brien indicated that his ambulance company from Jan. 1 through Nov. 22 received 163 calls to Delaware Township, 107 of them when DTVAC was unavailable or on other calls for service, and another 49 when they were called and then the call was cancelled.
O'Brien said there are times in the seven occasions when DTVAC and the Dingman Township ambulance corps arrived at the same time and the patient prefers service from Dingman.
"We try to take into consideration those requests and we'll do that (honor those requests) as long as they're not way out of the way, like to hospitals well into New Jersey or something like that," said O'Brien. He said his company next year may examine broadening into Advanced Life Support Services.
O'Brien said most emergency transports from Delaware Township go to Bon Secours or Newton Medical, which is the nearest New Jersey hospital, and some are brought to Lehigh Valley-Pocono.
O'Brien said his company's staff is mostly paid professionals, many supplied by CNG manpower services company of Milford, although there also are a few accredited volunteers. He said his ambulance division has maintained a favorable relationship with CNG. The $17 hourly rate for paid staff is expected to increase in 2022, said O'Brien, who pointed out a number of medical volunteers has been steadily dwindling around the area over the years. Township Solicitor Tom Farley elaborated on that dilemma, saying that limited availability for many who need to work for pay to support their families over the years has led to the decline of volunteers across the state and the reliance on salaried positions..
"The days of volunteers are gone," said Farley, who has a deeper perspective as a solicitor to another township in the county and with Pike County. "I think this county is reaching the same conclusion, slowly but surely, because volunteers aren't coming."
Funding for Dingmans ambulances comes largely from the township budget to cover personnel while medical insurance coverage from patient care goes to maintaining and updating ambulances and medical apparatus. O'Brien said the total budget for his ambulance corps next year is expected to run between $700,000 and $800,000.
Board of Supervisors Chairman John Henderson asked what is the daily cost for operations at Dingman and O'Brien said it runs $1,000 a day.
Dingman's ambulance corps is headquartered at Log Cabin Road, although there has been discussion about opening a second station at Buist Road. The corps operates two ambulances but there are supplemental services on weekends when there is heavier call volume.
"We want to make sure we can make the call to Delaware Township in 10 minutes," said O'Brien, which is generally the obligatory response time for ambulance services.
DTVAC president Carl Will, also invited to the workshop, did not attend and supervisors agreed to table any action until getting more complete details from the township's own ambulance service.
Henderson also announced at the regular meeting that supervisors will vote on the 2022 Fiscal Year Budget at the next regular meeting on Dec. 15 at 7 p.m.
Also at the meeting, supervisors unanimously approved spending $7,393.93 of federal American Rescue Plan funds to the township for new computers from CDW-G company through the state COSTARS cooperative purchasing program. Henderson questioned the need and township Administrator Krista Predmore recommended two new computers for two township departments -- Emergency Management and Sewage Enforcement Officer/Zoning Enforcement Officer and the third would be on standby.
In a 2-1 vote, with Henderson opposed, supervisors also approved through ARP funding the $999 purchase of Meeting Owl Pro that provides better broadcast coverage of Board of Supervisors meetings. "I'm opposed to spending (about) $1,000 for (accommodating) a small group of people," said Henderson.
Supervisors voted down a motion for a $19,715.64 electronic welcoming sign to the township that also would post township information out of ARP funds.
Supervisors also agreed to re-advertise for letters of interest for a vacancy on the Delaware Township Recreation Commission and to advertise for letters of interest for a vacancy on the township Planning Commission and for township auditor after accepting the resignation of elected auditor Mike Dickerson.
A township Emergency Preparedness Forum, conducted by Emergency Management Coordinator George Beodeker, will be held on Saturday, Dec. 11, at the municipal building. It starts at 8:30 a.m. and runs in two parts, one for homeowners associations and the other for local businesses.
At the workshop, supervisors discussed with interest a letter submitted by resident Linda Schwall requesting a "round glass convex mirror" to be installed on Route 739 facing and across from Doolan Road." Supervisors pointed out that a number of fatal accidents have occurred in that area.
"Coming out of Doolan Road trying to make a left hand turn has become pretty risky due to the increased traffic, speeders and bends in the road (from both sides), making for limited visibility of oncoming traffic," the letter reads. "I called the township building regarding my request and was told that I would have to call PennDOT. PennDOT simply told me 'no.' No reason given.
"So I am resorting to contacting the Board of Supervisors in hopes that you might agree that this t-intersection is not as safe as it used to be for those drivers making left hand turns onto Route 739, and might be willing to use your influence over the 'powers that be' to simply have an inexpensive convex mirror installed (there)."
Henderson said he discussed the matter the following morning over the phone with Schwall,
"PennDot would not allow such mirror in their right of way. We therefore can do nothing about a mirror," said Henderson. "However I suggested that we remove more dirt from property we own, increasing the sight distance to the left when attempting a left turn from Doolan Road. That idea will be forwarded to our engineer for review."
Supervisors also agreed to send a letter to Pike County that it will apply for a scenic rural preservation grant to help subsidize its park plan. Funds from that grant also could go toward the township's comprehensive plan.