By Peter Becker

Managing Editor

Employees of Pike County Advanced Life Support (ALS) have asked the Palmyra Township Supervisors to designate Pike ALS as the primary ALS provider, in light of what they view as competition.

They expressed concerns that they are being eclipsed by the growing presence of Atlantic Health System, a New Jersey - based company operating in Pike.

At the Supervisors' meeting, Jan. 22, Michael J. Scovil, Clinical Coordinator with Atlantic Ambulance Paramedics, gave a quick overview of their operations. He said he was there to simply introduce themselves to the Supervisors. The Pike ALS people, in the audience, shared their concerns afterward; the Atlantic Ambulance representatives had already exited the meeting.

Scovil stated that Atlantic Health System opened the urgent care facility in Milford about two and a half years ago. They had three vehicles at this location. One of their ALS trucks was relocated to Blooming Grove Township, where it operates from near the entrance to Hemlock Farms.

He said that they have already responded a couple times to Palmyra Township (Pike). He said they are dispatched by the Pike County Communications Center- by way of the 911 system, depending on the criteria of the call. He stated that they serve Blooming Grove Township and portions of Lackawaxen and Greene townships.

A license is pending for a medic helicopter, which would be based in northern New Jersey. Atlantic has owned Newton Medical Center for about a year and a half, he stated.

Afterward, Jeanie Hartzell shared her thoughts to the Supervisors. She said later that she was speaking as a private resident, although she is an employee with Pike County ALS.

She asked that the Township would designate Pike ALS as their paramedic provider. Pike ALS has a station in the Township, off Route 6. Hartzell commented that Atlantic, which is a big corporation, is likened it to "a Home Depot opening by Gumbles."

She explained that Pike ALS struggles to keep going, and pay its employees. She added that Pike ALS was able to respond quicker to local emergencies.

Supervisor Ken Coutts replied that the Township needed all the facts, including the figures and costs. "We need to decide what is best for the residents," Coutts said.

Douglas Carrick told the Supervisors that Pike County had not upgraded to use GPS coordinates to track the closest emergency medical service to respond to an incident. Chairman Tom Simon replied that the Supervisors would investigate the concerns about dispatching.

Messages left for Michael J. Scovil, for additional comment for this story, had not yet been returned.