Macungie Ambulance Corps is an organization on the move … both literally and figuratively.
The emergency medical services provider based in Lower Macungie Township began responding from a second station in August when it has two ambulances available. It also continues to grow in terms of its fleet, call responses and coverage area.
“We look at quality, not quantity,” cautions Operations Manager Christopher Greb. But, he is proud of progress made and believes quality has been maintained. He says organizers continue to monitor situations and data to meet needs.
That’s how the corps began responding an additional ambulance beginning last year from Lower Macungie Township Fire Department along Brookside Road in Wescosville.
The move started when township officials sought an outside consultant to study who should provide ambulance service for the northern portion of Lower Macungie. The conclusion was that Macungie Ambulance, already serving the south, should cover all of the township. Cetronia Ambulance, based in South Whitehall Township, had been providing the northern coverage.
Macungie officials spoke with Lower Macungie fire officers in an effort to bring an ambulance closer to those in the northern territory. The fire department was close to making a move of its own to a new second station at Willow and Sauerkraut lanes, creating additional space in the existing fire station. The two organizations reached a rental agreement of $300 per month to share the Wescosville facility. The leases are three months at a time.
“It’s a very fluid situation,” Greb says. “It’s a matter of us working together, at least on a trial basis, to offer help to the community.”
Here’s how it works: The second ambulance is stationed in Wescosville 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The hours expand to 7 a.m. to 9 or sometimes 11 p.m. Friday through Sunday. The closer Macungie ambulance responds to a call depending on its location when both are in service. The remaining ambulance would respond anywhere in the territory when needed.
Greb estimates the move on average has saved 1 minute of response time for patients in northern Lower Macungie. He cautions that the number is an average, noting there could be simultaneous calls in southern Lower Macungie and Macungie, for example. But in general, the response is faster to the Wescosville area when the ambulance comes from Brookside Road instead of the main station along N. Walnut Street.
“When we have two [ambulances] in service, we spread them out,” he says.
Depending on your point of view, a 1-minute savings is not startling. Greb agrees, but believes the move is well worth it considering the low rent situation.
For that reason, Greb says Macungie is not looking for land or a building in the northern section, but officials would be willing to listen to offers that would be hard to pass up.
“As long as we’re welcome at the firehouse, we’re willing to stay,” he says. “It’s a great idea to see how much of a difference we’re making for our residents.”
The corps was started in 1955 by the Macungie Veterans of Foreign Wars in an era of limousine-type ambulances. Today, in a period of modular “trucks,” the organization has a four-bay headquarters along N. Walnut Street in Lower Macungie and serves all of the township, Macungie, Alburtis and the western portion of Upper Milford Township. It will begin serving the western section of Lower Milford Township in April.
The number of calls responded to in 1955 was minuscule compared to today. By way of comparison, Macungie Ambulance had 719 responses as far back as 1993. That number has skyrocketed and likely will exceed 2,800 for 2010, Greb says. Several factors are responsible.
The coverage area has increased and the population has swelled. The corps also has added services that bring requests for mutual aid. Chief among them was the addition of Advance Life Support services in 2006. This adds providing paramedics, intravenous fluids and drugs, and other advanced monitoring and lifesaving equipment to the response.
Besides a roster of 15 volunteers and 25 paid technicians to run the calls, the corps has four ambulances. The third and fourth ambulances may be staffed in anticipation of special needs and events. Macungie Ambulance also operates an all-terrain vehicle for rough-terrain rescues and runs a unit that tends to firefighters at active fire scenes. In this case, technicians rehydrate firefighters and monitor their vital signs. They also may offer heated shelter and light refreshment. Macungie also houses a trailer for Lehigh County that delivers mass-casualty supplies to scenes when needed.
The corps also has a community outreach component, which is big on prevention and preparedness. More than 300 people were trained in first aid and CPR last year, Greb says. Members talk to children at playground programs and adults on when calling 911 is advisable. The EMS Bike Team also adds coverage for events such as Das Awkscht Fescht and running races.
Eight corps members also are part of an EMS Strike Team, which has extensive training and may be deployed to any part of the country to assist in disasters, such as a hurricane.
Greb says the mix of paid members who supplement the volunteers has worked well. He adds they welcome more volunteers with an interest in running calls or helping in other ways, such as fund-raising or grant writing. Those interested may call him at 610-966-2601, ext. 107, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While the operation keeps growing, Greb says their intentions aren’t about ego. “We don’t look at anything we take on … based on a basis we are bigger and better. We strive on growing in quality, not necessarily quantity.”