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Quick Response proposal stalls

Published October 05. 2009 02:55PM

A proposed Quick Response Service team that would provide emergency medical services to Coaldale residents has stalled.

Borough council on Tuesday agreed it wants to see more solid progress in the form of liability insurance and establishment of nonprofit tax status from resident Daniel Bird, who proposed the QRS team. Bird said he needs a solid commitment from council before he can obtain quotes for liability insurance.

"We're going to put it on hold until the need arises or the money arises or I can come up with it," Bird said.

Council likes the idea of a QRS team in the borough, but before it makes a financial commitment, "We need to see something that makes it real," said Councilwoman Joanne Melloy.

The liability insurance is a sticking point. At an Aug. 11 council meeting, members of the Lansford Ambulance Association offered to provide the insurance. But that changed between then and Tuesday, and the reason was unclear.

Bird told council that the eastern PA EMS Council told him the insurance wasn't necessary. He said an EMS Council representative told him the insurance "is a good idea, but you don't need it" because "we are all covered under the Good Samaritan Law."

The law protects people who provide emergency help from civil liability.

Bird said he estimates the insurance to cost about $1,000 a year.

Mayor Claire Remington wondered why the borough couldn't "do this ourselves."

Solicitor Michael Greek has cautioned council not to take the proposed QRS team on as an entity of the borough to protect the borough from liability.

"There is a risk involved," he said. But the borough could donate money to the group, once it's established as a nonprofit organization, he said.

Councilman Tom Keerans said the money was not in the budget for this year, but maybe could be for next year.

Bird said Tuesday the startup costs, including the insurance, have been gotten "down to below $5,000." He said he has gotten commitments from almost a dozen people, including several emergency medical technicians and two first responders. The QRS team would be licensed and overseen by the state Department of Health.

At the Aug. 11 meeting, Bird said the startup costs would be $2,190. On Tuesday, he explained that that would be the cost of buying new equipment. However, he said, he's had offers of donations that would offset that cost and that local ambulance organizations and the EMS Council would contribute money for training, materials, personnel protection and equipment.

"The offer (of a QRS team) is still open when the borough decides it needs it," he said. "We'll be there."

The idea arose at the Aug. 11 meeting, when council appointed Lansford Ambulance Association as the borough's primary Basic Life Support provider, with Tamaqua Ambulance Association as back up. Lehighton Ambulance Association provides Advanced Life Support services to the borough.

The QRS team would be composed of volunteers who live in the borough who would take turns being on call and would be dispatched through 911 calls in advance of the BLS or ALS arrivals.

In other matters Tuesday, council learned that the borough is working to resolve a sewer discharge on East Water Street.

Council also asked that anyone who notices a problem with street lights call the borough office at (570) 645-6310.

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