Subscribe To Help Save Lives: Boyertown Community Ambulance Service Encourages Residents To Join


by Lesley Misko

Last year, the Boyertown area community stepped up! Increased purchases of annual ambulance subscriptions by area families and businesses, increased monetary donations from civic groups, and increased contributions from the municipalities it serves  (Borough of Boyertown, Colebrookdale and Earl Townships), decreased the Boyertown Community Ambulance Service’s (BCAS) longstanding financial challenges.

Now, BCAS is asking the community to continue its support, especially by renewing and once again purchasing annual ambulance subscriptions. BCAS is hoping that those who did not subscribe in previous years, will subscribe now.

Melanie Roth, BCAS Board president, feels “cautiously hopeful that community members and municipalities will continue to recognize the need for BCAS to be ready to provide the best possible services with the most current equipment and best trained staff.” Roth, and Jim Boyer, Boyertown Emergency Medical Service (EMS) Chief, emphasize that the “annual subscriptions are a major part of the solution” to covering the ambulance service’s annual expenses.

An annual ambulance subscription – $100 per individual; $125 per family; $100-$500 per business, depending on the number of employees— is a bargain, Roth and Boyer point out.

“People think that their Medicare or other health insurance pays the cost when an ambulance is needed,” explains Roth. “But in reality, your insurance pays only $400- $500 of the estimated $800- $1,500 expense. The balance is then billed to the patient. However, if the patient has purchased an ambulance subscription, s/he is not billed for that difference.”

Although saving money is always a good outcome, nothing can equal the value of saving a life. In her seventh year on the BCAS Board, Roth describes herself as “passionate” about further building the capacity of the community’s lifesaving services. “An ambulance makes the difference between life and death. I want the community to understand the importance and need and to support it,” she says.

Boyer has no shortage of evidence to prove Roth’s point. “One of the things we offer to business subscribers is a discount on workplace lifesaving and safety training” he explains. The goal is to enable ordinary people to utilize emergency protocols before an ambulance arrives, to increase someone’s likelihood of survival.

Boyer shares, “Shortly after we completed a recent CPR training for a local business, an employee of that business went into cardiac arrest. Because of that training, people knew what to do.” CPR was initiated; first responders arrived; AED (Automated External Defibrillator) was administered to restore the victim’s heart rhythm, and Boyer, along with police, fire, and EMS personnel were able to successfully revive him before transporting him to the hospital.

Noting the happy ending, Boyer emphasizes, “The patient survived… and it was because his coworkers just had this training.” He concludes, a bit choked up, “The system worked. There were tears there that day. People think they won’t ever have to use what they are being taught. We can’t save everyone’s life, but that day, everything worked. The training kept someone alive until the ambulance arrived.”

Faced with rising costs, Boyer, Roth, and the BCAS Board are striving to ensure that BCAS updates its aging equipment while, in Roth’s words, being “responsible stewards of the citizens’ money.” For example, rather than completely replacing an ambulance from 2016 with more than 140,000 miles on it, they recently replaced the chassis and transitioned the ambulance to a more efficient fuel system – saving tens of thousands of dollars in the process.

This partially replaced ambulance improves life saving capability at a fraction of the cost of an entirely new ambulance.

However, BCAS has two additional aging ambulances and is struggling to fund replacement of other key equipment, such as chair lifts and heart monitors, among many others. Roth shares, “We are creating a list to prioritize a time schedule for equipment replacement, and we are developing plans for how we can pay for it. We are striving to be proactive.” BCAS also is   continuing to fund ever-changing technology that  improves patient outcomes.

Yet another cost is personnel. Boyer notes that EMS staff across the state and nation are underpaid. Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and Paramedics often need to work multiple jobs to make ends meet, and the demanding hours of the work can often lead to burnout.

The fact that BCAS now has nine full time paid positions – four are EMTs, four are Paramedics, and our chief – reflects a major shift toward the professionalization and strengthening of the BCAS emergency capabilities. Originally chartered through the Lions Club during the 1940s, BCAS was staffed by volunteers who usually operated out of local fire companies. Inspired by living down the street from the fire company, a mother who was a nurse, and a television show called “Emergency,” Boyer has been involved for 38 years and has seen huge changes.

“Back in those days you took a first aid class and you were good to go,” he remarks. “Now, much more education and training are required. People pay their own costs to become certified, but then they enter the profession and quickly discover that it is a demanding career with low salaries, so they leave. Salaries need to be competitive enough to retain good people.” 

Jim Boyer, Chief, and Melanie Roth, Board President, along with the rest of the board, work together to figure out ways to provide the best services at the most affordable costs.

To help educate the community about its life-saving work, BCAS sends its ambulances and crews to wellness council health fairs and other large community events. “The perception is that we’re ambulance drivers,” says Boyer, but the reality today is so much more. “An ambulance is like an emergency room on wheels. The more people we can get trained and aware of what we do, the better off the community will be. People take their training with them out into the community.”

Boyer and Roth are hoping everyone will do their part: take advantage of the services BCAS provides in the community and above all, purchase a 2024 subscription now. Residents of the area served by BCAS should have received subscription information in the mail, but you can also click here to purchase an annual ambulance subscription or click here to make an online contribution to BCAS.

“No one wakes up in the morning planning to call an ambulance, Boyer says. “You just never know when an emergency might arise.”  

Learn More About the Boyertown Community Ambulance 

on the "B Inspired Podcast"

Jim Boyer and Melanie Roth recently stopped by the "B Inspired Podcast" to share details about BCAS' lifesaving work.  Moderated by Jane Stahl, the podcast is available wherever you download your podcasts, including at Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify

Put It on Your Calendar Now…

To help raise funds, BCAS has undertaken a variety of fundraising projects over the years. This year they invite residents to:

“Making Drives and Saving Lives.”

Be sure to mark your calendars for BCAS' “Heroes on the Green” Golf Tournament, slated for Saturday, May 11, 2024, at 1:00 pm at Twin Ponds Golf Course in Gilbertsville. 

Support opportunities include Hole Sponsor ($100) and Food and Beverage Sponsor ($250). All proceeds benefit BCAS.

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Great article on the Boyertown Community Ambulance.  Most people don't think about the ambulance or know how the community ambulance service works until they need or use it.  The BCAS is not run by volunteers as in years past, but by paid paramedics and EMTs.  BCAS is very fortunate to have Jim Boyer as their Chief in so many ways - he care about the community, a very knowledgeable EMS Chief, instructing and training for the paramedics and also arranging training within the community, Jim is definitely a people person not just caring for people and their medical needs but also having a great working relationship with Boyertown's EMTs and paramedics and also other local ambulance services.  Make sure to purchase your annual ambulance subscription and also if you're a golfer - sponsor a hole or get a foursome together for May 11, 2024!

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