Frequently Asked Questions
RECEIVED A BILL FOR AMBULANCE SERVICE AND HAVE A QUESTION. WHO DO I CONTACT?
OUR BILLING AGENT WILL ASSIST YOU. CONTACT – NORTHEAST MANAGEMENT SERVICES
PO BOX 2193
DURYEA PA 18642
PHONE – 570 457 2700
EMAIL – NEMANAGEMENT@VERIZON.NET
HAVE A GENERAL QUESTION ABOUT THE AMBULANCE ASSOCIATION. WHO DO I CALL?
PLEASE FIND AND CLICK THE ABOVE LINK THAT SAYS “CONTACT US”. THERE YOU WILL FIND THE INFORMATION TO CONTACT US.
I'M HAVING AN EVENT AND WOULD LIKE TO HAVE EMS PROVIDERS COME AND DO A DEMO AND TOUR OF THE AMBULANCE. DO YOU DO DEMOS AND TOURS?
YES WE DO DEMOS AND TOURS. WE WILL TAILOR ANY DEMO AND TOUR BASED ON THE AGE OF THE GROUP. WE HAVE DONE DEMOS FOR SCHOOLS, KINDERGARTEN THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL, SCOUTING GROUPS, NEIGHBORHOOD BLOCK PARTIES AND SHOPPING MALLS. SCHOOLS, SCOUTS, MALLS – WE’VE DONE IT ALL! CONTACT OUR OFFICE AT LEAST TWO WEEKS IN ADVANCE TO DISCUSS YOUR NEEDS AND SCHEDULE OUR VISIT!
Regarding memberships. Do I really need a membership? Why should I donate?
Lets explain what a “membership” is for a resident. A “Membership donation” is a voluntary participation in a support/charity contribution program for a non-profit organization, in this case, the Ambulance Association. The Pittston Township Ambulance utilizes this program to –
- Raise necessary funds for its operations
- Provides a benefit to a resident for their donation, in the form of covering any “out of pocket” expense for EMS that an insurance carrier does not cover. Unless you want to pay the “out of pocket” expense, you should subscribe to the annual membership program. Depending on your insurance coverage, the “out of pocket” expenses can be very little, or hundreds of dollars, up to the entire invoice for EMS. So, that answer is “yes” to needing a membership, especially seeing how it supports your local non-profit EMS and this donation stays right here in the community.
I live in the Glendale section of Pittston Township. Why can’t I belong and donate to another Ambulance Service, seeing how there are other Ambulance Services closer to me?
Donating and supporting an Ambulance Service is a voluntary action of giving. Any resident can donate to whoever they desire. However, the issue arises …”What happens when you dial 911? What ambulance service will be sent? Can I ask for a specific ambulance company to come to my residence?”
While the idea is simple, to request a specific ambulance service, the community plan and protocol to serve the public interests comes from in depth study of an entire community and the available resources that are within a larger coverage area. This in depth study includes knowing what resources are available at any given time in neighboring communities, factoring in their responsibilities to their coverage areas, and if they may also be available to serve Pittston Township.
When anyone dials 911, in place is a plan for Pittston Township residents that has been developed, reviewed and placed into action, is how to best serve the public interest. The recognized community primary EMS is dispatched. For Pittston Township residents and visitors, that is Pittston Township EMS. In the event our ambulance is out of service for any reason, another ambulance is immediately dispatched to respond. There is virtually no change/delay in the time necessary to send a backup ambulance. If we are out of service/on another emergency, the 911 center is aware of that and sends our designated backup for that specific area in Pittston Township.
In the specific situation of Glendale, while there maybe other ambulances closer, Pittston Township is the primary responder. There is never an assurance that the “closer” ambulance is, in fact, “available”. Do note that Pittston Township EMS is a 24/7/365 operation serving only one community.
At one time, only a few years ago, there were 5 ambulance services in the vicinity of Glendale in upper Luzerne/lower Lackawanna County, other than Pittston Township. Now there are only two providing 24 hours service and these ambulance services cover 4 communities. The reality is that while communities have grown, along with the needs of each community, the fact is that there are less ambulance services providing 24/7/365 to a larger static and transient population in the area. And it is not uncommon, that ambulances from upper Luzerne County are occasionally sent into lower Lackawanna County because there is not enough ambulances available to cover emergencies there. In return, Lackawanna County will send ambulances into upper Luzerne County if our area has excess emergencies awaiting responses.
The Pittston Township EMS staff does review the needs of each area of the community, develops a plan for response, reviews and adjust those plans as necessary. The Glendale, Suscon, Browntown and Corklane sections all have different circumstances and needs, so each area has a unique response plan.
So to answer the questions – yes, a resident can donate to whoever they desire; when you dial 911, you will get Pittston Township Ambulance, or our designated back up service if we are not available; no the 911 center will not send a different ambulance service even if you request it.
Therefore, it is in the resident’s best interest to support your local ambulance, as to have the benefits of the membership program. And we take your health and safety seriously, working to create a plan to best serve the needs of the community.
What policies and procedures does the Ambulance Association have in place to ensure financial integrity and accountability?
What does the Pittston Township Ambulance do to protect their funds from being improperly spent and how do they work at keeping the public trust and integrity of their organization?
The trust of the community in both our delivery of medical services and how we administer the business operations and finances have been a long time concern. We take seriously this trust and long ago, put into place safeguards to ensure that no one person has single access to funds, finances and money, with a check and balance system to verify expenditures and to properly account for the income and expenditure of funds.
As approved by the Board of Directors, in place and enforced are these following standards and safeguards –
- There are 22 members on the Board of Directors. Only 4 persons (4 of 5 members of the Executive Committee who are legally responsible for all financial transactions) may legally sign checks or transfer funds into, or out of, any and all accounts. To transfer any funds, require two signatures on the deposit/transfer document. All checks generated to pay invoices/vendors require two signatures.
- An Executive Committee member, if being reimbursed for an out of pocket expense made on behalf of the Ambulance Association, as per the By-Laws, is not permitted to be a signatory to his/her own reimbursement check. A receipt of the purchase/transaction is required to be presented, verified as legitimate and once approved, then sent to the treasurer for payment.
- An out of pocket expense incurred by any board or staff member made on behalf of the Ambulance Association and submitted for reimbursement must be presented with a receipt; verified as legitimate and once approved, then sent to the treasurer for payment.
- Excess funds in the general account (generally when $25,000 is exceeded) are invested as per the Board of Directors. All four members of the Executive Committee are signatory to the investments. To redeem any investment, a motion is duly made and passed by the Board of Directors and then this motion is required to be presented in letter form to the financial institution to permit the funds to be released. Those funds are immediately direct deposited into the general fund and then transferred into a checking account for disbursement for the approved designated purpose.
- The four Executive Committee Members responsible for all financial transactions are bonded/insured. All Executive Committee members perform various duties, but never complete a single transaction independently for payment.
- Billing for services is performed by an operations staff officer. This is then submitted to a billing agent who does this activity on behalf of the Ambulance Service. A recap is then sent to the Executive Committee designate for documentation. All insurance payments are either direct deposit or paid by check made payable to the Ambulance Service. The President or his/her designate reviews the submitted payments and then forwards that information to the treasurer for deposit of any checks received.
- Items purchased from vendors/suppliers for operations is done by staff officers within set limits for purchase by individual purchase and cumulative monthly amount. For any proposed or pending purchase, that information is provided to a designated member of the Executive Committee. Upon receipt of the merchandise, the supply / order is confirmed; the invoice submitted /reviewed by the Executive Committee, which then forwards the invoice to the treasurer for payment. In the event a purchase exceeds the threshold and prior to purchase, this information is presented at Board of Directors meeting for approval. A competitive bidding process is used.
- The Executive Committee as a group may approve an extraordinary expenditure (supplies or materials requiring immediate purchase due to need) not preapproved at a Board of Directors Meeting and not to exceed $750 per transaction. Any such expenditure is required to be reported at the next scheduled Board of Directors Meeting.
- Four Executive Committee Members have on line internet access to view all banking activity; account statements, balances, investments, transfers of funds and all checks issued. No online account transfers are permitted.
- Membership drive and fund raising income is first received/recorded by committee/person in charge of the fund raiser, expenses and proceeds formally acknowledged at a Board of Directors meeting and submitted direct to the treasurer for deposit.
- At all scheduled Board Meetings a financial statement is prepared by the treasurer as per the By-Laws; read, voted upon and distributed to those in attendance for review. In certain circumstances, Board Members will be emailed or otherwise provided with “screen shot” documentation of the Ambulance Association online financial statements.
- Each year (calendar, by April 15) the entire financial information of all income, deposits and payments is turned over to an outside Certified Public Accountant (CPA) firm for independent review and tax filing with the United States Internal Revenue Service. The CPA is given permission to contact our banks to confirm statements if necessary. The Pittston Township Ambulance Association is a recognized 501(c) non-profit entity.
- Once the CPA accounting process review and tax filing is completed, that document is then formally presented at a Board of Directors Meeting for approval and acceptance as the official financial statement of the Pittston Township Ambulance Association.
I RECEIVED A NOTICE FROM A COLLECTION AGENCY. HOW DO I RESOLVE THIS?
PLEASE REFER TO THE INFORMATION IN THE COLLECTION NOTICE AND CONTACT THEM DIRECTLY FOR RESOLUTION.
I NEED A RECORD OF MY AMBULANCE SERVICE TREATMENT AND TRANSPORT. HOW CAN I GET MY RECORDS?
YOU WILL NEED TO PROVIDE A WRITTEN REQUEST. THIS REQUIRES SUBMISSION OF A NOTARIZED PATIENT INFORMATION RELEASE FORM. THERE IS A CHARGE FOR RECORD RECOVERY AND MAILING. PLEASE CONTACT OUR OFFICE FOR DETAILS. IF AN ATTORNEY IS MAKING THIS REQUEST, THEY WILL MAKE THE NECESSARY ARRANGEMENTS ON YOUR BEHALF TO OBTAIN YOUR PATIENT RECORDS.
I WOULD LIKE TO BECOME AN EMS PROVIDER. HOW WOULD I DO THIS AND ARE YOU ACCEPTING NEW STAFF MEMBERS?
WE ARE ALWAYS SEEKING NEW EMS PROVIDERS TO JOIN OUR STAFF. PLEASE FIND THE “VOLUNTEERING/EMPLOYMENT” LINK ABOVE AND CLICK. THE DETAILS ON BEING AN EMS PROVIDER AND HOW TO JOIN OUR STAFF ARE LOCATED THERE. YOU’LL FIND THAT BEING AN EMS PROVIDER IS TRULY CHALLENGING AND HIGHLY REWARDING FOR YOU PERSONALLY. WE HOPE TO HEAR FROM YOU!
Do you seriously go after persons who don’t pay for their EMS when they call 911 for help?
The answer here is “yes”. And the reasons are very simple and straightforward. Basically its fairness. Even though we are a locally operated non – profit business, we are just that … a business. And sound business practices require that we operate as such.
When someone receives emergency services, within a short period of time, the following occurs –
- The patient/resident information is reviewed with the results of the annual membership campaign. A resident who does NOT have a membership, receives a letter of inquiry regarding if they have a membership. This letter has information regarding the payment for services process.
- The patient information is submitted to a billing agent, who bills the patient insurance carrier.
- Once the insurance carrier makes payment, a non-member is billed for the balance due. For a person with a membership, the balance due is forgiven in accordance with the membership program guidelines.
- For residents in the membership program – it is required is that we are permitted to bill their insurance carrier for the services provided. Once we receive payment, that payment is considered as payment in full. If the person fails to provide insurance information, then the bill for services is forwarded to a collection agency for collection.
- For a resident NOT in the membership program – it is required that we are permitted to bill their insurance carrier for the services provided. Once we receive payment, then the person is billed for the balance due. If the person fails to provide insurance information, or fails to make any payment, then the bill for services is forwarded to a collection agency for collection.
The Ambulance Association is required to have in place, and to enforce, a fair and equitable program to collect payment for services provided. We cannot and do not discriminate on who we collect payment from. What we do ask, is that every person who receives services and thus an invoice for those services, do not disregard that invoice. We need to resolve each invoice by payment.
This process ensures our EMS operation remains financially viable for the community as a whole and guarantees that those who have memberships are assured that they receive their benefit and in fairness, those who don’t have memberships, are balance billed accordingly.
So to answer the question again … “YES” it is to a persons/residents benefit to have an Annual Membership.
What is the story behind the Municipality at first saying it was “prepaying” Ambulance Memberships for the residents but now giving it as a rebate?
This situation of an offer of funding for our operations has been the most unusual offers the Ambulance Service has ever dealt with. Not only was it confusing to us and for residents, it has nothing to do with the Ambulance Service. One thing to keep in mind, is that the Municipality does not “own or operate” the Pittston Township Ambulance Association. The Ambulance Association is a legally recognized private non-profit corporation, similar to a civic group or organizations, such as the Red Cross.
What transpired was this “pre-pay of ambulance memberships”…. was a political campaign promise. And it was “expected” that the Ambulance Service would just eliminate its annual membership campaign. Nothing was ever formally presented to the Ambulance Association for consideration to eliminate the membership program. And it was discovered that the supervisors never intended to speak with Ambulance officials to discuss their proposal.
Given this, the Ambulance Service continued its membership program. Eventually, the supervisors met with Ambulance Executives to discuss that campaign promise proposal. At that meeting, it was learned that the campaign “promise” was never intended to cover all ambulance memberships and there was no meeting planned with the Ambulance Association to discuss the proposal. In fact, the “campaign promise” would only cover about 75% of the residents. In addition, the annual municipal donation was also going to cease.
This “proposal” represented about a $10,000 loss in revenue to the ambulance service and was not going to cover every township resident’s participation in the membership program.
The residents of the township were never informed of these facts.
The Ambulance Service reviewed this offer/concept and also, looked into the law regarding the Municipality funding for emergency services, contained in the Pennsylvania Second Class Township Code. In that code, the Municipality could provide funds in two manners – 1) to provide a general grant, which was historically done for many years, or 2) sign a contract for services.
The Pittston Township Ambulance Association Board of Directors sent a letter to the Municipal supervisors, noting that we would accept any appropriation under the legal requirements for receiving the funds, that being the Code noted by the state of Pennsylvania. Abiding by the PA Code, the Ambulance Service would participate in any funding source that was disbursed in a proper and legal manner and avoided the appearance of endorsing a political campaign promise.
In our view, this would be the proper approach and in the best interests of the Ambulance Service and the resident/taxpayers.
After a five month exchange of correspondence, the supervisors rescinded their offer and opted to institute a rebate program direct to the residents. The complete letter file of this correspondence is available at the Municipal government office as it is public documents.
Therefore, Ambulance Membership program has nothing to do with the Municipal rebate. This is an offering between the Municipal Government and the residents and the Ambulance Association works with the Municipality in assisting with residents receiving the rebate. And a resident who has an annual membership, enjoys the benefits of the membership program.