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Williamstown Area EMS
earns state award
All-volunteer group to be honored for its performance by
Pennsylvania Emergency Health Services Council Nov. 22

By Duane Good, EDITOR



Williamstown Area EMS remains the only all-volunteer emergency medical service in northern Dauphin County and one of only two county-wide. (Sentinel file photo)

Williamstown Area EMS, also known as WEMS, has a dinner date for next month.

The organization has been named Small Volume EMS Agency of the Year (2014) by the Pennsylvania Emergency Health Services Council for exemplary service in a variety of areas.

WEMS members have been invited to the Pennsylvania Fire and Emergency Services Institute annual banquet Saturday, Nov. 22 at the Radisson Harrisburg in Camp Hill. Chief Garrett Miller and Assistant Chief Andrew Donton will accept the award on their organization’s behalf.

It’s already been a milestone year for WEMS, which marked its 50th anniversary in June and also expanded its service capabilities by adding a quick-response unit earlier this year. (Sentinel, Jan. 28 issue.)

First winner from county. Also known as “Station 24,’’ WEMS  remains northern Dauphin County’s only 100 percent volunteer emergency medical service and one of only two all-volunteer EMS groups in the county.

It provides BLS (Basic Life Support) services. PinnacleHealth Community Life Team/Medic 6 provides ALS (Advanced Life Support) services.

Its primary service area includes Williamstown Borough and the townships of Williams and Wiconisco. It is ‘‘second due’’ in Tower City and Lykens borough and in the townships of Porter, Rush, Lykens and a portion of Washington.

First in county to win award. The Small Volume EMS Agency of the Year award goes to an organization that responds to less than 1,500 calls a year. (There  also are awards for Medium and Large Volume entities as well. In 2013, WEMS responded to 865 consecutive calls and, as of this writing, has run more than 600 calls in 2014.

According to Donton, criteria for the award includes:

• Cooperative working relationships with surrounding public safety organizations.

• An emphasis on provider-education and professional-development activities.

• Participation in community-oriented activities.

• A consistent record of rapid response time and adequate staffing levels.

Station 24 was notified of the award in August.

“It’s great that all the hard work that the volunteers do doesn’t go unnoticed,’’ Donton stated. ‘‘These volunteers are not here to get recognized, but when they do, it feels good.

‘‘It is also a great feeling knowing we are the first company in all of Dauphin County to ever win this award,’’ he said.

“A wonderful job.” The agency was nominated by a fellow first responder, Bradley DeLancey, EMS chief for Susquehanna Twp. Emergency Medical Services and chairman of the Dauphin County Emergency Health Services Council.

“I’ve seen what a wonderful job they have done,’’ he said. ‘‘In the past year, they have been extraordinary. They definitely are a high-functioning organization and that’s due to the support of their volunteers.

‘‘(Station 24) responded to 865 calls without missing a single one. That in itself is great, especially for a an all-volunteer group,’’ he noted. ‘‘And in many cases, they had enough available staff to send out two ambulances when it was needed.

DeLancey praised WEMS’ volunteers for being willing to deal with medical emergencies at a time when people are more reluctant to potentially expose themselves to diseases.

He also noted how the organization has a strong compliment of additional volunteers who take care of non-emergency functions (i.e. administration, fundraising, etc.) so that those certified in emergency medical response can concentrate on running calls.

Station 24’s leadership has worked hard not only in keeping the agency well equipped, but well-staffed and trained, according to DeLancey.

‘‘One of the nice things they do is provide training and education opportunities for people in their community,’’ he said. “They also provide support for Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops who want to learn first aid and emergency response.’’

Visible in community. WEMS volunteers are visible at a variety of community functions. Crews are on the scene of every sporting event at Williams Valley Junior-Senior High School.

In addition, they are present at community parades throughout the year and at Memorial Day observances, the annual Block Party, and other local events in their service area  – and sometimes outside if the area.

For several years, the association staged a ‘‘DUI crash’’ at Williams Valley High School just before the prom and graduation seasons, with a goal of  discouraging teenagers from drinking and driving.

The current association began in June 1964 as the Williamstown-Williams Twp. Community Ambulance Association. It became Williamstown Area EMS Inc. in 1993.

For more information. Anyone interested in volunteering for WEMS is asked to call 647-2142. The web site is wems24.com.

Former volunteer was winner in 2013. Donton also noted that Robert Staken Jr., a former Tower City resident and WEMS volunteer, was honored as Paramedic of the Year (2013) at last year’s Pennsylvania Fire and Emergency Services Institute dinner.

 




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