EMS Week: May 17 – 23
This year’s EMS Week couldn’t have been timed better to pay homage to all of the providers that have been fighting on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic. From an operational standpoint, Cetronia Ambulance Corps was prepared very well for this unique battle. “The Corps has been in business 65 years and has a great foundation for dealing with these types of scenarios. In fact, several of our team members are trained for Emerging Infectious Disease Transports and have practiced and drilled for Ebola and SARS when it presented a threat throughout the region,” said Larry Wiersch, CEO of Cetronia Ambulance Corps.
The management team at Cetronia couldn’t be more proud of the staff for how they have managed the situation at hand. The associates would tell you that they are simply exhausted and are anxious for this pandemic to end, but they wouldn’t want to be doing any other job during this time, either. While it has taken its toll on the team physically, the harder part for all of them has been dealing with this on the mental side.
As a nonprofit, Cetronia Ambulance Corps is proud to say that even with a sharp decline in business almost overnight due to COVID-19; none of the full-time staff has been furloughed or laid off during this pandemic as we still must remain response ready regardless. Unfortunately, many other businesses cannot say the same, especially when it comes to EMS. The Corps could not have made it through all of this alone though. “We have been blessed with a very supportive community that has been donating everything from PPE to gift cards and numerous delivered meals. We really can’t say thank you enough,” said Wiersch.
This week, Cetronia management was pleased to present 55 certificates of appreciation to staff members that were involved in some of the larger and complex incidents that have taken place over the last year. Food was brought in and/or donated by local businesses from across the region. EMS professionals from around the region were also treated to food and goodies from Lehigh Valley Health Network and St. Luke’s University Health Network and Lehigh County Emergency Management’s 9-1-1 Center.
The crews were greeted by lawn signs at all of the station locations and window decorations at our main facility, the Joint Operating Center on Broadway to show appreciation for their efforts throughout the year. “There was definitely an appreciative mood in the air and the crews were happy to be noticed by the community as a whole. We couldn’t be prouder of the entire team,” said Wiersch.
Why EMS matters
Each year Cetronia Ambulance Corps answers roughly 65,000 calls for service; more than 16,000 of those being for 9-1-1 high priority emergency calls for service. Cetronia also takes pride in its compassionate and caring staff to assist in getting patients to and from doctor’s appointments or transports home after a dialysis or chemotherapy appointment. The crews have also done numerous lift assists to help people that have fallen and need help stabilizing themselves. They have taken wheelchair-bound people home for the holidays so that they can spend time with their families. And sadly, they have even assisted taking people outside for their last breath of fresh air because they are in hospice and only have a few mere hours to live and it is their last dying wish. In general, Cetronia’s associates are out there helping people at their weakest moments in life and they do it with pride and warm compassion.
The cost of readiness
Being in EMS, it is our duty to respond and to be ready in a moment’s notice for the community. That comes with a hefty price tag though. Did you know the cost to fully staff and equip one ambulance per year is $437,000? Currently Cetronia has an always ready fleet of 41 vehicles which have regularly scheduled replacements to keep them in ready mode. This is where donations and philanthropy are critical to our success more so than in any other area.
In EMS, it is a given that every minute matters when it comes to treating a patient. Whether it is a cardiac arrest or stroke, delivering a baby or any other myriad of ailments; having a trained crew respond can make all the difference in the outcome of your recovery. But, can you imagine needing to make the 9-1-1 call and no one was there to answer? That is something that many areas of the country are faced with as their ambulance services have crumbled around them due to lack of funding support.
Our plea to the community
It is sufficient to say that most people do not understand how Emergency Medical Services are funded within their communities. Most assume it is just a standard part of their taxes. That is not the case in Lehigh County and similarly is the case in almost all of Pennsylvania where there is no direct tax millage assessed per tax payer for EMS services.
Cetronia Ambulance Corps operates as a nonprofit 501c3 organization as do many other EMS agencies in the region. Cetronia is funded from self-paying individuals, a subscription program, many fundraising events, grants, and gravely reduced payments from Medicare, Medicaid and insurance companies. For example, Medicare’s ambulance payment policies have remained mostly unchanged since 1965 – when the ambulance ride was all that mattered. Today, the services we are allowed to perform on patients are leap years ahead of where we stood when we were founded in 1955. These payments and the way the EMS system is funded needs an overhaul, before most close their doors.
We want to continue to be your #1 provider of emergency medical services for many years to come. Your generosity will help save more lives here in our home community. Please consider making a contribution and also becoming a subscriber to Cetronia Ambulance Corps, today.
Our lifesaving mission depends on it. Thank you.