Six municipalities in the northwest region of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, have incorporated the Municipal Emergency Services Authority of Lancaster County, a first-of-its-kind regional municipal authority to address the region’s emergency medical services crisis.
The Authority will fund, manage and provide EMS services to member municipalities. The founding municipalities are Conoy Township, East Donegal Township, Elizabethtown Borough, Marietta Borough, Mount Joy Township and West Donegal Township.
MESA was formed because the municipalities recognized that EMS services are at risk. Locally, Northwest EMS (like EMS agencies across the state) is facing insolvency due to funding shortfalls and soaring costs. Less than half of the residents served by Northwest EMS contribute through its subscription-based model.
The municipalities needed a bold solution to meet their statutory obligation to provide EMS services.
Emergency medical services in the northwestern portion of Lancaster County are provided by Northwest EMS, a non-profit organization that traces its roots to the merger of the Elizabethtown Fire Company Ambulance and the Northwest Advanced Life Support Unit in January 2000.
Municipal leaders and the Northwest EMS Board of Directors have been meeting quarterly since 2018. At the start of 2021, a committee of Northwest EMS leaders, volunteers and local municipal leaders began studying this situation and exploring alternatives.
The committee is proposing the creation of a regional Emergency Services Authority, which will address the challenges that jeopardize emergency services in our community and fulfill the statutory requirement for municipalities to provide EMS services with more fiscal stability.
The bottom line: The new EMS authority would ensure that EMS services continue to be available in our community 24/7/365, potentially saving your life or the life of your loved one.
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You would pay an annual fee on par with today’s Northwest EMS subscription rates (between $70-$85), or your municipality would pay the authority (depending on your municipality’s arrangement with the authority). Actual fees would be determined once the authority is incorporated.
Municipal residents would not receive residual bills if their insurance pays toward an ambulance bill. Residents would receive 50% off their ambulance bill if they have no insurance or if their entire ambulance bill went toward their insurance deductible.
State law requires that Pennsylvania municipalities ensure that EMS services are provided to their residents. If a municipality chooses not to participate with the new regional authority, it will have to find another way to fulfill its obligation to provide EMS services, including financing and operating such services.
September – December 2022
Municipalities consider enacting ordinances to incorporate the Emergency Services Authority.
Newly formed Authority begins to hold public meetings.
Public meeting held on the Authority’s services and fees.
Late 2023 / Early 2024
The Authority begins providing services.