Changes on the way for Sheffield Volunteer Fire Department EMS

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SHEFFIELD, Pa. – Change is coming to the Sheffield Volunteer Fire Department’s Ambulance service.

Starting on Jan. 1, 2022, Sheffield VFD will change from a BLS ambulance service (Basic Life Support Service) to QRS (Quick Response Service).

“The main difference between BLS and QRS is that we will not be the ones transporting the patient to the hospital,” said Sheffield VFD Chief Matt Bell during a town hall meeting at the Sheffield VFD on Tuesday. “We will still provide the initial patient contact.”

A lack of manpower issues that face not only Sheffield but other local municipalities is one of the biggest reasons for the switch as well as increased regulations and qualifications.

“Under BLS services, you need an EMT and a state-certified driver, but with QRS, only one qualified person is needed,” Bell explained. “For many years, there has been an increasing manpower issue, both here and everywhere else. We have been one of the fortunate ones that had two to three dedicated individuals. After many years, these members respectfully decided to retire.”

Bell also explained that the EmergyCare based in Kane would be tabbed to handle patient transport to the hospital.

EmergyCare Director of Operations Todd Steele said that isn’t a done deal yet, but that it is likely to happen.

“We want to be part of the solution where we can,” Steele said. “I don’t see any reason why there wouldn’t be (a partnership) at this stage.”

Steele also explained that which hospital patients would be transferred to remains up to the patient (Kane or Warren) “as long as it’s within reason.”

Bell also explained that other units would be available in an emergency if EmergyCare isn’t.

“Once we get tapped out, they make sure the transport unit is available,” he said. “If it isn’t, they’ll go to the next one available. That could be Clarendon, it could be Warren.”

Bell went on to say that this is simply the next step in trying to find a more permanent solution for ambulance services in Sheffield.

“We tried to implement a tri-dispatch with Clarendon and Cherry Grove,” Bell said. “This process was somewhat successful but was only a temporary solution. It spread woes on an already thin EMS system.”