Mayor Kevin Hawk has offered his office at Borough Hall for Commonwealth Health Emergency Medical Services, which since January 2018 has been the designated primary ambulance provider in the community.

HAWLEY - Mayor Kevin Hawk has offered his office at Borough Hall for Commonwealth Health Emergency Medical Services, which since January 2018 has been the designated primary ambulance provider in the community.

Meanwhile, Jeannette Graf, a resident of 206 River Street, asked Council at their June 13th meeting, what the status was of Hawley Ambulance & Rescue Company. “Hawley Ambulance has been my neighbor for 30 years. I could not want a better neighbor.” She expressed surprise.

Timothy Rowland, spokesman for Commonwealth Health, gave an update about their services to the borough. He said they are working on the means for ready access into the Hawley Village Apartments and Barker Street Apartments.

They are also working on the issue of response times, he said. The paid ALS and BLS medical service, which is based in Scranton, he said, have obligations in Honesdale Borough, Hawley Borough and Paupack Township, and they are looking for an ambulance station in the middle- in Hawley.

(It was also noted that Palmyra Township -Wayne County, in June, has designated Commonwealth for both BLS (basic life support) and ALS (advanced life support) service as their primary responder.)

Borough Solicitor asked when Commonwealth planned to find a location for the ambulance here.

Rowland said, “We are in litigation with Hawley Ambulance on money that that owe us. Maybe we can resolve a lease with them in lieu of paying the money.”

He said that would cut down the response times. Most of the time, Rowland said, they are parking an ambulance most of the time either in the borough or near it, or half way between the borough and Paupack Township.

Pressed for what specifically Commonwealth was seeking, Rowland said they were not necessarily looking for garage space, but needed an office for a computer, desk and chairs, and a place to park the ambulance. Access would be needed around the clock. Space to park the ambulance is also needed.

Monaghan suggested that space can be provided at the Borough Hall. Mayor Hawk said he was not using his office since he works full-time, and Commonwealth could make use of it.

Bernathy said there would be no charge of the use, and he could provide a “very simple lease.” Monaghan the solicitor would be in touch about the lease, and the office would be set up.

Another woman in the audience, who was identified as Linda, addressed Rowland: “I had use of your services, and I cannot say enough good about the way I was treated, about the way my family was treated. Thank you so much.”

Monaghan explained to the River Street resident that there were response time issues with Hawley Ambulance, which has been going on for the last two years. After documentation was asked repeatedly from Hawley Ambulance, the borough took action on behalf of the residents and designated Commonwealth as first responder.

“That is not necessarily a reflection on their unwillingness,” said Elaine Herzog, Council Vice-President said. “It’s a reflection on what’s happening in the world today, in terms of volunteerism. They couldn’t man crews any longer.”

Herzog repeated that council is willing to re-address the issue if Hawley Ambulance is able to provide the necessary service.

Documentation was asked to assure Council of their ability to respond effectively and timely to emergencies, including response time, insurance coverage and housing an ambulance at the ambulance hall.

Monaghan stated that (former Chief) Bryan Utegg, who is now the Acting President of Hawley Ambulance, told council there problem was finding enough volunteers to man a crew.

(In a recent interview, Utegg said that they are still responding to call as they are able and do patient transports and assists for lifting. They are also seeking to recruit volunteers.)

Rowland noted that call volume is less in a rural area. Hawley Ambulance is all volunteer. Tafton Fire Company has a paid EMS service and White Mills is partly paid, he noted. The expense of a paid crew, he said, can be more than the ambulance service is reimbursed, in a rural area.

He said in 2010 there were over 800 ambulance in Pennsylvania and today there is less than 650. He said in five years there will probably be less than that because of the inability to afford paid people and inability to find volunteers.

Basic EMT training is over 170 hours, Rowland said. “Most people work two jobs. No one has the time to really commit to doing that.”  He said he suspected that was the concern Hawley Ambulance has experienced.

Rowland said it is a problem not only in Hawley, but across the country.

“We just want our residents to feel safe,” Mayor Hawk said.

Hawley Council meets on the second Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Borough Hall, 94 Main Avenue.