Citing concern about the lack of response from Hawley Ambulance & Rescue Company, the Borough has “temporarily” assigned Commonwealth Health Emergency Medical Services (CHEMS) as the primary responder for Hawley.

HAWLEY - Citing concern about the lack of response from Hawley Ambulance & Rescue Company, the Borough has “temporarily” assigned Commonwealth Health Emergency Medical Services (CHEMS) as the primary responder for Hawley.

Vice-president Elaine Herzog made the motion at the October 11th meeting, stating, “Based primarily on increasing anecdotal information and other feedback we have been receiving I am moving to designate Commonwealth Health Emergency Medical Services as dual BLS/ALS provider effective immediately - on a temporary basis, with any additional conditions that will be reviewed by our solicitor with CHEMS as well as fact-finding about the status of Hawley Ambulance…”

Council passed the motion without any nay votes, or discussion (Councilwoman Patricia Barteleson was absent).

Timothy Rowland, Director of Communications & Government Community Relations for CHEMS, said they are looking for a location within the borough to stage an ambulance.

No one representing Hawley Ambulance & Rescue Service was present. Council President Ann Monaghan said later that they were assured by Hawley Ambulance that they were up and running, but had not heard from them in some time. She said they were “sporadic” in answering EMS calls. Monaghan said they had “not getting anywhere” when trying to reach out to them. (Notes indicate a monthly ambulance report was last read at Council, in August.)

Contacted the next morning, Bryan Utegg, Hawley Ambulance Chief- who was away on vacation - told The News Eagle that like other volunteer emergency response companies, Hawley Ambulance faces a critical shortage of volunteers. Specifically, they need more EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians). He stated that present state law requires two EMTs or Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) on every Basic Life Support (BLS) transport.

The driver can be an EMT, but doesn’t need to be. Hawley currently has four EMTs, he said, but they all have full time jobs and assist White Mills Ambulance and other ambulance companies in the region on calls. “We all help each other,” he said, noting the common need they have for enough crew.

In the past they tried having a part-time paid crew but there wasn’t enough call volume. They formerly served Paupack Township and part of Lackawaxen Townships and had approximately 1,200 calls a year. Now it is down to about 700 a year, but Utegg expressed doubt they will reach that many in 2017.

They also lack the volunteers who are members, to do more fundraising events at the ambulance hall on River Street. He said they would like to be able to resume bingo games.

When Hawley Ambulance isn’t available for a call, Commonwealth Health is the backup- until this present, temporary change.

Utegg indicated surprise at Council’s plan to temporarily name Commonwealth Health.

He stated that they need to sit down with Borough Council and explain the situation, and also possibly advertise for EMTs.

Utegg welcomed anyone interested in becoming an EMT or members to assist in other capacities, to contact Hawley Ambulance & Rescue Co. at 570-499-7514 or hawleyambulance@yahoo.com.

Commonwealth Health Emergency Medical Services is based in Scranton and provides medical transport in Lackawanna, Luzerne, Wayne, Wyoming and Columbia counties. CHEMS employs over 300 people. They have continuous ALS and BLS coverage through Wayne County and services Wayne Memorial Hospital. They are the designated EMS provider in Paupack Township where they are stationed at the Lakeville Fire Station.