Commissioners honor first responders

BOB ROLLEY/The Express Emergency medical services providers were honored by the Clinton County commissioners on Thursday. From left are Dan Ake, Susan Watson, Dave Knauff, Commissioner Jeff Snyder, Evan Ripka, Troy Bruner, Gerard Banfill, Commissioner Pete Smeltz, Ann Banfill and Commissioner Paul Conklin.

The coming week of May 21-27 is Emergency Medical Services Week in Clinton County, and a bunch of first-responders were on hand Thursday to be lauded by the county commissioners.

They perform a vital public service.

They are, as a resolution adopted by commissioners reads, “EMS strong … always in service.”

“When you don’t need emergency medical services, they might be out of sight and out of my mind. But boy, when you need them, you need them. In Clinton County, we have an outstanding group of professionals,” Commissioner Pete Smeltz said, recalling his own need for such professionals.

An example of the life-saving service was revealed when Smeltz praised the Renovo ambulance service and Bucktail Medical Center for recently helping to save the life of a participant in the Hyner View Trail Challenge who apparently suffered a heart attack.

Tim Reeves, lead administrator at Bucktail Medical Center, recounted the events of the incident to the board.

A trail run participant collapsed and was sent to BMC, where he diagnosed with a cardio-pulmonary issue.

“He was stabilized and flown to Geisinger Medical Center. The response was quick enough that he should recover fully,” Reeves said.

With Reese was Dave Knauff, also of BMC and with Renovo ambulance.

Moreover, county Director of Emergency Services Kevin Fanning praised all emergency responders and his staff at the 911 center, detailing their reactions to the May 1 violent storm that swept through the region and caused widespread damage.

“We made a conscious decision to increase our staff numbers for our upcoming second shift (prior to the May 1 storm), which took us from two people to three people. That may not sound like a lot, but that one extra person on the front end was a huge help,” Fanning said, recalling that even more staff helped, too.

Around 6 that night. as high winds blew through – knocking down trees and power lines and closing roads – calls to the center began to escalate≥

By 11 p.m., the center had taken over 400 calls, he said.

“In additon to that, we handled over 120 calls for service. At one point, every fire department in Clinton County was engaged in some kind of incident. Through our efforts and people thinking outside the box, we had a number of employees step up,” Fanning said.

“These other voices you hear (when calling 911) are the faces you don’t see that put EMS, firefighters and police on the streets” to serve residents, Fanning said.

Tim Nilson, executive director of the Seven Mountains Emergency Medical Services Council that supports EMS agencies in nine counties in Central Pennsylvania, thanked commissioners and said there are 12 EMS agencies in the county, 18 EMS vehicles and nearly 200 professionals who are certified by the state Department of Health to provide medical services here.

And they are busy, he said, offering some glaring statistics on calls, even in a rural county like Clinton.

In 2016, there were 4,729 EMS dispatches in Clinton County, or about 13 calls a day, he said.

That doesn’t include an estimated 4,000 non-emergency calls, and another 371 of what he called QRS, or quick response service calls.

“I want to compliment and thank all of the EMS providers in the county for what they are doing,” Nilson said.

The board thanked Reeves, Knauff, Gerard Banfill of Lock Haven EMS, Nilson, and Fanning others for their service.