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U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta Visits
DALLAS — Nobody wants to think about what would happen if a fire broke out and not enough emergency responders showed up to battle the blaze.
U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta heard some startling statistics Friday afternoon when he toured the Back Mountain Regional Fire & EMS station in Dallas.
Fire Chief Harry Vivian said he used to see 20 to 30 volunteers respond to fires in the Back Mountain area. Now, the chief said he’s lucky if 10 show up usually it’s less.
That’s a shocking revelation when you consider the Back Mountain Regional Fire & EMS responds to 400 fire calls per year and more than 3,000 EMS calls.
“Sometimes, we take fire fighters and emergency responders for granted, until there’s a fire and not enough people show up to fight it,” Barletta said.
That’s a scary thought, and Barletta said he is seeing this trend in declining volunteer fire fighters throughout his district and across the state.
“The decline is not unique to Northeastern Pennsylvania,” Barletta said. “It’s happening in town after town in Pennsylvania.”
Chief Vivian said not many are knocking on his door to sign up to become a volunteer firefighter.
“Social times are changing,” he said. “People have to work two jobs and most families have both parents working. Add to that all of the activities that kids are involved with today, like sports, and there isn’t much time left for volunteering.”
The decline in volunteers resulted in the Dallas and Lehman fire companies merging to form the Back Mountain Regional unit. Back Mountain Regional Chief Chris Good said there are 10 full-time employees and 20 part-timers in the unit.
Volunteers are still vital to the operation. Barletta said some 97 percent of fire companies in Pennsylvania are volunteer-dependent.
Chief Good said the Back Mountain Regional unit has a coverage area of 120 square miles. The more volunteers there are throughout that area, the better the odds of getting to a fire in time to begin fighting the blaze or, more importantly, to save lives.
Barletta knows the challenges. He said his time as mayor of Hazleton taught him the needs of municipalities. That’s why he has fought for more federal funding for fire departments and why he continues to fight to protect fire companies from having to bear the burden of the high cost of insurance for volunteers.
Barletta had his eyes open to a real issue facing many towns throughout his 11th Congressional District during Friday’s tour. He later stopped at a few Back Mountain businesses to talk to the owners and their customers about their needs and concerns.
It’s time well spent for an elected official — getting out into the district he or she represents and listening to the people.
That’s how a congressman learns what needs to be fought for in Washington, D.C.
Sometimes, these stops have small rewards. Dawn Pruden was at the Back Mountain Regional Fire & EMS station with her husband, Albert. The Prudens live in Lehman Township, but are former employees of the Fire Department of New York City.
Albert was in Tower 7 on 9/11 when it collapsed, Dawn said. He got out, but not without long-term health issues. She said Barletta helped Albert get the benefits he deserved.
Showing their appreciation, the Prudens presented Barletta with a patch from the uniform of the FDNY.
Barletta thanked the Prudens and said that’s why he does the Main Street Tours. He said it’s the best way to get a feel for what’s needed in the municipalities he represents.
Public safety is always a Main Street concern. Barletta, Chief Vivian and Chief Good urge people to consider getting involved as volunteers.
The Main Street Tours that Barletta has done — some 22 so far — have helped the congressman identify what is going on in his district and with his constituents.
The real challenge is finding a way to get the necessary funding to address those concerns.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.
Jackson Twp & Kingston Twp Appoint Back Mountain Regional EMS to Provide Ambulance Service
Back Mountain Regional has been named as the official service for Jackson Township and Kingston Township. This change was made after the Jackson Township Ambulance and the Trucksville Fire, Rescue & EMS companies announced they had decided they could no longer provide ambulance services due to the cost of staffing a 24 hour per day service.
PA DCED Cooperative Partnership Leadership Award 2014
Back Mountain Regional Fire & EMS And Hanover Township Community Ambulance Association, Inc.
Since 2012, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic
Development has recognized one newly formed Fire and Emergency
Service partnership that exemplifies the highest level of professional
dedication and public service through excellent organizational and
intergovernmental cooperation. This year’s award winner is Back
Mountain Regional Fire & EMS and Hanover Township Community
Ambulance Association, Inc.
During the summer of 2009, members of Dallas Fire and Ambulance
and Lehman Fire and Ambulance of Luzerne County met to discuss the
benefits of sharing resources and combining organizations to become a
stronger, larger organization and to meet the increasing demand for
emergency services in the Back Mountain region. After many meetings,
in December 2010 both companies agreed to move forward with plans
Back Mountain Regional Fire & EMS from Dallas, PA Recipient of ems AGENCY OF THE YEAR award
The 2013 Pennsylvania State EMS Awards were held on Saturday, November 23rd at the Radisson Harrisburg Hotel and Conference Center in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. These annual awards recognize individuals and organizations that have provided outstanding community service as part of Pennsylvania’s emergency medical services system. The awards ceremony is presented by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Bureau of EMS and the Pennsylvania Emergency Health Services Council.
Geisinger Health System Awards
Back Mountain Regional Fire & EMS was recognized by Geisinger Health System for their exceptional response time, which is well below the national standard. Our “door-to-balloon time” (a time measurement for emergency cardiac care) of 911 dispatch to hospital procedure time is averaged at less than 60 minutes, while the national goal is to be below 90 minutes.
Back Mountain Regional Fire & EMS Participates In PA State Recognition Program
Recently the Back Mountain Regional Fire & EMS completed the PA State Recognition Program sponsored by the Fire Commissioners Office.
The voluntary fire fighter certification program is a legislatively mandated system promulgated by Act 1989112, repealed Act 1995-61. The Voluntary Fire Fighter Certification Program allows for the certification of any Commonwealth resident, 18 years of age, regardless of religion, gender, or natural origin. Commonwealth emergency responders have and opportunity to participate in and be recognized as a certified fire professional at various levels in accordance with nationally recognized and sanctioned Professional Qualifications standards.
On January 1, 2013 Back Mountain Regional Fire & Ambulance and Lehman Twp Fire Rescue-EMS joined forces and have become the Back Mountain Regional Fire and EMS. We would like to thank the members of both organizations for their continued efforts in serving our Back Mountain communities.