Springdale town leaders seek credible business plan, guarantee of service from struggling Lower Valley Ambulance Service

Before voting to fund the cash-strapped Lower Valley Ambulance Service, Springdale Township Commissioner Tim Basilone asked for two things.

Basilone wanted to see a solid business plan and ensure that the EMS provider could successfully become the town’s primary ambulance provider.

Basilone made the demands at last week’s township council meeting as councilors discussed calls for the ambulance service to seek financial support directly from the seven municipalities it serves. The town of Springdale is one of them.

“It’s like a business going to a bank for a loan: one of the things they have to provide is a business plan,” Basilone said.

Lower Valley Ambulance Service officials allege that many of the patients they transport retain insurance reimbursements they receive to pay for using the service, rather than pass those costs on to the service. That left the organization, a nonprofit, in a precarious financial position, Lower Valley officials said.

As a result, Lower Valley is asking the communities it serves—Springdale Township, Springdale, Harmar, Cheswick, Verona, Oakmont, and Indiana Township—to contribute funds to cover operating costs.

It has informed the communities that $50 per resident per community is required.

In the case of Springdale Township, based on its 1,557 residents, that figure is just under $78,000.

As part of their request, Lower Valley officials have come up with a seven-point short-term plan, the first of which is to secure funding from the municipality.

There seems to be only one point to alleviate the financial situation, and that is to “continue to determine and reduce the expenses of office space, vehicles, etc.”

The other five projects call for hiring an executive director, renegotiating union contracts to increase EMT and paramedic wages, recruiting and retaining more EMTs and a paramedic, continuing community outreach, and increasing wheelchair cart services.

“They need to get back to us and there has to be more substance to their plan,” Basilon said.

“They better come up with a business plan,” he said. “They didn’t say how they would do things differently to survive.”

Township attorney Craig Alexander said the township needs to provide emergency services to residents.

“You have to provide EMS. You have to provide ambulance service,” Alexander told commissioners. “It doesn’t necessarily mean (using) the Lower Valley, but you have to provide it.”

Basilone also questioned the Lower Valley’s ability to continue serving all communities.

“If they can’t cover every primary (community), we need to know,” he said.

Township Manager Bill McElligott is scheduled to meet with Lower Valley Ambulance Service officials this week and relay Basilone’s request.

He said he wasn’t sure how much the community would support the Lower Valley’s request for funding.

“Most of the board members in Lower Valley are from Oakmont, and I’m not sure Oakmont will stay with them,” McElligott said.

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