BOSWELL – Officials from Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Emergency Medical Services are working with Boswell’s ambulance service to help it meet the requirements of its license, according to a letter sent last month to Mary Ann DeLuca, president of Boswell Borough Council.

That July 23 letter, which was read aloud at Monday evening’s council meeting, was sent to DeLuca by two officials from the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services, which is part of the Pennsylvania Department of Health – Dylan J. Ferguson, director, and Aaron M. Rhone, EMS program manager.

They were responding to a July 17 letter from DeLuca, who wrote that it was council’s understanding that Boswell Ambulance is “trying to rectify (its) lack of full-time paramedics.” DeLuca asked that the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services “assist them in finding a solution to their lack of personnel” and that allowances be made “as they are the closest service for our town and the surrounding area, which is populated with many, many elderly people.”

“As you correctly identify in your letter,” Ferguson and Rhone replied, “Boswell Ambulance is and has been struggling to fulfill the requirements of their ALS (Advanced Life Support) ambulance license. Like other EMS organizations, Boswell struggles to be able to provide coverage for the residents that they serve.

“The EMS Act and its associated Rules and Regulations require EMS agencies to be able to provide service at the highest level of their license 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to ensure that the residents served can have an expectation that, when their call to 911 is made, that someone will respond.”

When staff from the EMS bureau and representatives from the Southern Alleghenies Regional EMS Council met with Boswell Ambulance’s management on May 7, they presented two options designed to help the ambulance service meet the requirements of its license, according to Ferguson and Rhone.

One of those options was to transition Boswell Ambulance from an Advanced Life Support (ALS) service to a Basic Life Support (BLS) service.

The difference between the two is in the level of care and the type of procedures that providers are permitted to administer.

“Boswell has demonstrated a marked ability to be able to respond with a BLS crew,” Ferguson and Rhone wrote, “whereas they have extremely limited availability to respond in the (ALS) capacity. By transitioning to a BLS service, Boswell would have the ability to … provide service to their community and transport to the hospital as a licensed ambulance without having to construct a county response plan.”

The other option was to have Boswell work with neighboring EMS services and Somerset County 911 to create a “response plan,” a written document that would be “put in place to ensure … that there is a plan for who will respond to the call” when an EMS service is unavailable, Ferguson and Rhone wrote. The creation of a county-level or broader response plan “would allow Boswell to continue to provide (ALS) services on a less than 24-hour basis,” they added.

Ferguson and Rhone noted in their letter that “at no point during our discussion and ongoing support discussions” was revocation of the ambulance service’s license discussed. They said their bureau “has provided and continues to provide numerous options and significant technical assistance in assisting Boswell Ambulance in (its) mission to continue providing care to (its) community.”

Mark Pesto is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkPesto.