Hospital provides Warwick base for regional EMS paramedics

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:13

    WARWICK-"EMS: There when you need us." This was the theme of this year's Emergency Medical Services Week and in timely fashion, it describes a recent improvement in local emergency services. Sponsored by the American College of Emergency Physicians, EMS Week is designed to bring together local communities and medical personnel to publicize safety and honor the dedication of those who provide the day-to-day lifesaving services of the medical "front line." In the Warwick area, the people who have been providing that service have been the members of the Warwick Volunteer Ambulance Corps and other volunteer ambulance services in nearby Greenwood Lake and Pine Island. These volunteers are Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs). Although they are fully capable of handling most emergencies and carry sophisticated equipment on board, there are occasions when the nature of the emergency is such that paramedics are needed. The paramedic units are equipped with certified medical technicians and advanced life support systems such as IV pumps, ventilators and 12 lead cardiac monitors. Until recently, however, the distance to the site of the emergency often meant that the local EMT volunteers would arrive well before the paramedics who were stationed farther away. To repair that weak link in any future emergency response, St. Anthony Community Hospital recently arranged for a paramedic station in Warwick. Regional EMS, a non-for-profit organization serving Orange and Rockland Counties, will now maintain an office, vehicle and paramedic unit at Mount Alverno Center, which is part of Bon Secours Warwick Health Care Campus. "We're here to support the volunteers," said Mike Witkowski, chief of operations for Regional EMS. The Warwick Volunteer Ambulance Corps will continue to provide all basic services and to be the only response to all but the most serious accidents or other emergencies. When needed, however, Regional EMS is now only minutes away and there will be a dual response to the emergency. "We'll work side by side," said Frank Cassanite, Jr., Captain of the Warwick Volunteer Ambulance Corps. "We are proud that we could make this arrangement with Regional EMS and improve the safety and well being of everyone in our community," said "Leah Cerkvenik, RN, executive vice president/administrator of St. Anthony Community Hospital. "A faster first response by certified technicians who can provide advanced emergency medical treatment will save lives." Regional EMS has actually been providing local backup services for several months while working closely with officials at St. Anthony Community Hospital to secure a permanent station in Warwick. "We're here only because Leah Cerkvenik and other officials at St. Anthony's had the foresight to see the need for a faster response and provide this location for us in Warwick," said Tony Schiero, marketing director for Regional EMS.