Tri-Community South Celebrates EMS Week
What residents should know about the local ambulance service.
Tri-Community South recently celebrated EMS Week—receiving recognition from the three communities they serve: Upper St. Clair, Bethel Park and South Park.
Hospitals around Pittsburgh treated paramedics to cookouts, T-shirts and other goodies after they would drop patients off to the emergency rooms.
The paramedics also took part in their 15th annual golf outing.
Director Nora Helfrich said there are many misconceptions in the public about Tri-Community South EMS, which was founded in 1977.
"A lot of people think EMS is free, but it is not," she said.
Tri-Community South EMS receives no municipal tax dollars. It must generate its own revenue through donations, grants and insurance reimbursements.
An annual subscription drive is held each fall for residents. For $60, a household is provided with total emergency ambulance coverage without direct charge whenever emergency service and transport is needed. The subscription also covers treatment at the scene or household with no transport to the hospital.
"Just to pull out of the garage is $642," Helfrich said.
She said, for example, that Medicare only pays for $332 of that cost. So instead of paying the remaining balance for paramedics visiting a home, a patient with a subscription fee wouldn't have to pay anything to EMS.
Helfrich said only 17 percent of residents take advantage of the subscription.
The Tri-Community South EMS base is located on Progress Boulevard in Bethel Park. Helfrich said it's close to the geographic center of the service area.
It continues to use the Upper St. Clair and South Park satellite bases during the daylight and evening shifts in order to reduce response times. The Upper St. Clair base is located in the municipal building on McLaughlin Run Road.
However, with 6,500 to 7,000 calls a year, Helfrich said ambulances spend little time in the garage.
They strive for a four to six minute response time. If it takes longer than 11 minutes to respond to a call, a report must be written.
There's a camera in each of the six ambulances that are used as learning tools for the paramedics. They are not allowed to drive over the speed limit.
Helfrich would also like the community to know that Tri-Community South EMS has Commission for the Accreditation of Ambulance Services (CAAS) accreditation. Only about 100 ambulance services in the United States and Canada have CAAS accreditation and Tri-Community South is one in four in Pennsylvania.
For more information about how to subscribe or donate to Tri-Community South EMS, click here.