West End ambulance shifts focus to community involvement

A new era has begun for members of West End Fire Co. 3 ambulance of Phoenixville.

In July, Phoenixville Borough council opted not to renew the squads contract and assigned emergency service responsibilities to Trappe Ambulance. Prior to the change, West End FC ambulance was the primary ambulance for Phoenixville Borough and responded to 4,000 calls annually.

As a result of the changeover, West End ambulances call volume has fallen off 45 percent. The squad now fields approximately 2,000 calls in Schuylkill Township, East Pikeland Township and part of Charlestown Township; they also serve as back-up for East Vincent Township and Spring City Borough. They remain second due-in within Phoenixville Borough after Trappe Ambulance.

Since the changeover, management of the squad has adopted a fresh new approach to seeing and doing things, according to John Osborne, captain of the squad.

Previously, he pointed out, we only had a couple supervisors who oversaw our operations. Now, we have a full complement of line officers and board members who bring to the table a vast amount of knowledge from their own emergency services experiences. There are seven members on the board, including a chief from Valley Forge Fire Co. and one from Kimberton Fire Co. These people oversee the operational and administrative side of things. They understand where were coming from and they know our objectives.

I commend these people for going the extra mile, Osborne continued. They have responsibilities in their own organizations, but they are willing to lend a hand so we can have a smooth-running organization.

One of the first innovations to be implemented by the squad will be a major emphasis on community education and fund raising.

Once the good weather is here, noted Donald Fry, West End FC ambulance chief, well be opening our garage doors for community education classes, including instruction in hands-only cpr, car seat safety inspections, use of automated external defibrillators and baby-sitting emergency procedures.

Osborne added that the planned fund-raising events will serve a dual purpose.

Theyll help us raise funds to purchase much needed equipment, such a heart monitors, breathing equipment and automatic battery-powered stretchers, he said. But were also hoping to bring the community out of their houses so they can have a couple hours of fun time. Ordinarily, we dont have much personal interaction with community residents because theyre spending much of their time at home watching TV or on their computers. Were hoping that the planned activities, such as the popular mommies flea market, a 5K run and a beef and beer event, will result in more community involvement.