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Pike ALS wins ambulance war; Companies vie for coverage

By Kevin Kearney
April 17, 2013

Pike County ALS (Advanced Life Support) received some good news at the April 10 meeting of Hawley Borough Council. The Milford-based emergency agency will remain the borough’s primary ALS provider after the council turned down a suggestion by Wayne Ambulance to designate the closest available paramedic service as the primary provider.

Councilman Joseph Fauble said he was concerned about approving a closest-available designation because Wayne Ambulance could essentially “park in Hawley and be the closest” to an emergency.

The council, at the March meeting, had approved Pike ALS as the borough’s primary designated paramedic service. Pike has a station just outside the borough, off Route 6 in Pike County. The approval was made after councilman John Robertson spoke in defense of Pike ALS due to a growing presence of New Jersey-based Atlantic Ambulance Corp., which is a competitor in Pike County.

Craig Welsh, representing Wayne Ambulance at the April meeting, noted his agency has stations in Lakeville, Hamlin and Honesdale, and it is in close proximity to Hawley. He said having the closest-available designation would be better for patient care.

Hawley Ambulance & Rescue chief Brian Utegg expressed concerns, saying he doesn’t want to see “ambulance wars” in the area. The council agreed. Utegg added his agency has no problem with either Pike ALS or Wayne Ambulance.

Pike County ALS was incorporated in 2001 and serves the majority of Pike County municipalities, in addition to a few Wayne County municipalities. Wayne Ambulance was created about two years ago from its parent organization, Scranton-based Lackawanna Ambulance. Last year, the agency replaced Honesdale EMS.

Hawley is not the only municipality where Pike ALS is receiving competition. For several months, Shohola Township supervisors have been considering either replacing Pike—the township’s current primary provider—with Atlantic Ambulance, or going with a closest-available designation. A decision in that municipality may come this month.