Lansford council on Wednesday designated Lehighton Ambulance Association to answer medical calls until the borough's ambulance resumes service.
Council members Mary Soberick, Samantha Yasson and President Rosemary Cannon voted in favor of the Lehighton corps. Councilman Tommy Vadyak opposed, and Councilwoman Danielle Smith abstained from voting. Councilmen Lenny Kovach and Andrew Snyder were absent.
Vadyak favored Regional EMS & Critical Care, a private service based in Lehighton. He proposed Regional, saying that an ill family member once had to wait for 45 minutes for Lehighton Ambulance. However, his motion died for lack of support.
Representatives of both groups, and John Kloss, deputy director of the Eastern PA EMS Council, attended the special meeting.
Kloss said that it would not be cost effective for either service to be able to dedicate an ambulance solely for Lansford. He advised council to designate a group that would provide both basic and advanced life support instead of appointing providers separately.
Matthew Feller, CEO/president of the Regional group, said the group is also stationed in Tamaqua, and would provide basic life support services to Lansford.
Questioned by Soberick, he said Regional had yet to provide any service to the borough.
Joni Gestl, administrative coordinator of the nonprofit Lehighton Ambulance Association, spoke about her groups' decades of service to the area. Lehighton Ambulance, she said, has worked with Lansford Ambulance for 23 years.
"Let us continue," she said.
The service has a substation in neighboring Summit Hill, and Gestl said an additional ambulance could be stationed there during peak emergency hours. Lehighton could provide both basic and advanced life support services, she said.
Gestl handed Cannon a sheaf of the group's tax returns to support its financial stability.
In July, Lansford Ambulance was temporarily taken out of service by the state Department of Health because its equipment did not comply with state standards. The shortcomings were discovered during a spot-check in late June.
Tamaqua Ambulance Association has been covering the borough.
After the special council meeting Wednesday, Lansford Ambulance chief Tom Staruch told the TIMES NEWS that the problem stemmed from the association not getting its bills on time due to the actions of some members, who have since resigned.
He said the group now has a new treasurer, and expects to be back in service soon.
Staruch also said the association plans to launch a subscription drive shortly. The proceeds will cover the rest of this year and all of 2014.
In other matters Wednesday, council appointed clerk Jill Seigendall from to assistant secretary-treasurer.