Putting award money to good use

First Posted: 2/24/2014

The Back Mountain Regional Fire & EMS is using a $1 million grant it received for being named best in state at the 2013 Pennsylvania State EMS Awards to help build a training facility at the Luzerne County Fairgrounds.

The facility will have training for citizens within the community as well as internal training for EMS members.

The award, bestowed upon the local company in November 2013 at the Radisson Harrisburg Hotel and Conference Center in Camp Hill, recognizes individuals and organizations that have provided outstanding community service as part of Pennsylvania’s emergency medical services system and is presented by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Bureau of EMS and the Pennsylvania Emergency Health Services Council.

It also honors a small volume EMS agency for its contribution to the development and growth of quality pre-hospital care within its community by demonstrating a consistent pattern of timely care delivery, working cooperatively with surrounding EMS agencies and by supporting professional development activities for its providers.

Chris Good, the EMS chief of the past four years, said the company was thrilled and honored to have won the award.

“We were excited,” said Good. “It’s a pretty significant accomplishment. We are regionalization of both Dallas Fire and Ambulance and Lehman Fire and Ambulance. It came to fruition last year when we used to just be Dallas Ambulance and it progressed to an advanced life support unit as Medic 30.”

The Back Mountain Regional Fire & EMS was formed as the result of the merger of Lehman Volunteer Fire Company with Dallas Fire and Ambulance.

In regards to how the process was on how the Back Mountain Regional Fire and EMS was chosen for the award Good is uncertain, saying he believes it was an overall process of how much the organization has improved as a unit.

“I think they looked at the overall progress and the way we worked our system was unique,” said Good. “We leased our medics from Hanover Twp. Ambulance, Medic 9 was their unit and we looked at options on how we wanted to put this together.

“Mark Van Etten is our president and he’s had some strong influence in managing wise and he’s our number cruncher. He was looking at what some of the better financial options were.”

Changes to advanced life support service in the area presented Back Mountain with an opportunity to examine its current scope of services and the community’s EMS system as a whole.

Forming a partnership with Hanover Volunteer Ambulance, it created one of the area’s premier ALS agencies.

Van Etten has been president of the Back Mountain Fire and Embulance EMS for 10 years, and said that he was informed back around October that the organization would receive the award.

He said one of the big improvements the organization made upon its conversion with Hanover Twp. Is how it responds to emergencies.

“We provide service to Dallas Borough and Twp. Kingston Twp., Jackson Twp., Lehman Twp., Lake Twp. and others,” said Van Etten. “We’re not just doing it in our area. In all those areas, we have the same setup so if one service was unreachable, we would just transport their patient.

Earlier this year, there was a situation where ambulances were coming from farther away to get to Nanticoke so that’s something we addressed. We were asked to just take the patient to the hospital rather than wait for that area’s ambulance.”

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