3 Pa. EMS agencies merge with help from grant

Thanks to a $33,000 grant from the York County Community Foundation's WellSpan EMS fund, First Capital Community Transport Partners was formed

By Logan Hullinger
The York Dispatch

YORK COUNTY, Pa. — Three York County emergency medical service companies have merged to streamline operations thanks to a $33,000 grant from the York County Community Foundation's WellSpan EMS Fund.

YCCF announced the merger of Grantley Fire Co., West York Ambulance and York Regional EMS on Monday, March 4. The new group is the First Capital Community Transport Partners.

"This helps them to provide even better service to the people by increasing the (financial) efficiencies so they can focus on the service aspect," YCCF spokeswoman Sarah Thomas said. "That's ultimately the goal of all of this: to enhance service."

Talks of the merger have been in the works for five years, and it's the second alliance to be funded by such grants — the first being the Southern York County EMS, which formed in 2015. More than $200,000 from the WellSpan EMS fund has been awarded to such agencies since its inception in 2014.

Yet not much will change in the eyes of those receiving service. The three nonprofit EMS companies will still serve the same areas, operate from their respective locations and maintain the same names.

Rod Drawbaugh, interim president of the new organization, said the merger formalizes the companies' relationship, as they already share resources such as vehicles and personnel. But the move will also help them financially.

"If we're together, we have more leverage and buying power in the marketplace," he said, adding that such cost savings and other factors could allow the organization to offer more competitive benefits packages to recruit paramedics.

In the future, more companies may join the group, Drawbaugh added. It also plans to eventually create a transportation service for those being moved from a hospital.

The EMS fund was created by YCCF and WellSpan Health to support regionalized EMS services in the county a year after WellSpan stopped providing services to companies that offered such services.

Before pulling out in 2013, WellSpan provided advanced life support services for more than three decades and leased paramedics to local ambulances beginning in the late 2000s.

But as more private ambulance companies came to be, WellSpan decided its services were no longer needed. The move also saved the company millions, as it lost $1.6 million through such services in 2012 alone.

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