“The emergency medical system has traditionally been a neglected component of the health care field. However, considerable attention has been focused on it as our potential to deliver more adequate life support has increased. The idea of providing paramedic services for Lycoming County began with the inception of the emergency medical services council of Lycoming, Sullivan and Tioga counties as part of their long range plan. Prior to the endorsement of the initial plan submitted by the Williamsport Hospital, many hours of E.M.S. staff time were spent examining the total emergency medical services picture in Lycoming County. As part of that total picture, a Basic Life Support response second to none was both developed and upgraded. Many have been instrumental in arriving at this point in time, where we can offer the Council a plan which will provide Lycoming County with a method of providing medical care to the patient prior to his arrival at the area hospital emergency rooms. It will continue to take a team effort to further develop, implement, and administer this plan.”
– Original proposal titled “The Paramedic (Advanced Life Support) System for Lycoming County” submitted by the Williamsport Hospital on July 19, 1979
The Lycoming County EMS Council and the Williamsport Hospital started developing the initial paramedic program in early 1977. Many long hours were spent visiting successful ALS services and training programs across the country. Dr Earl Miller was the main visionary and led the initiatives to begin ALS in Lycoming County.
On February 2, 1979, the first Paramedic Training Program in Lycoming County begins. It consisted of 600 classroom hours and 300 clinical hours. The program cost is approximately $300,000 per year.
Three of the four area hospitals try to stop the introduction of ALS. Divine, Jersey Shore, and Muncy Valley Hospital vote to not approve an ALS service in Lycoming County. They want the paramedic services to be volunteer based and claim that the “Expensive” costs of providing ALS will be prohibitive. Patient costs could be $80-$100 per call!
Williamsport Hospital takes the lead for training and provides medical command to the paramedics. Not all oppose ALS in Lycoming County. As the Sun-Gazette stated:
“Taking a stand against the paramedic program would be like taking a stand against motherhood.”
On July 16, 1979, Paramedics begin providing Advanced Life Support in Lycoming County. Medic 1, staffed by two paramedics, is the first paramedic unit in Lycoming County.
In December, 1984 Williamsport Hospital takes over city Ambulance duties from WBF. There were protests outside of Williamsport Hospital from the Williamsport Bureau of Fire Union. Williamsport Hospital is now running a MICU (Ambulance 1 which consists of one paramedic, one prehospital nurse, and two students), and one squad, (Medic 1 which consists of one paramedic, one prehospital nurse, and students)