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Gazette and Bulletin: February 5, 1946 – Explanation of Ambulance System Given

Manpower shortages in the municipal fire department and of coordination to affect a 24-hour a day ambulance service for local residents were cited as factors for insufficient aid in getting fire and accident victims to the Williamsport Hospital immediately after a disaster, it was stated here yesterday. The statement was made by Phillip Shay, director of

Manpower shortages in the municipal fire department and of coordination to affect a 24-hour a day ambulance service for local residents were cited as factors for insufficient aid in getting fire and accident victims to the Williamsport Hospital immediately after a disaster, it was stated here yesterday.

The statement was made by Phillip Shay, director of public safety, as sentiment mounted over delay in getting the Grand Street fire victims to the hospital early Sunday.

Answering the charges on behalf of the city, which maintains the public service as an added responsibility of the fire department, Shay pointed out the ambulance is not operated on a 24-hour basis because of the lack of men to operate it. He said emergency calls are answered as soon as they are received at fire headquarters.

In the recent tragedy the department received the alarm and several companies answered it immediately. Shortly after their arrival, firemen gave artificial respiration to the victims and meanwhile sent a call for ambulance service.

Newberry residents based protests on the fact that it took 50 minutes for the ambulance to reach the scene.

Mr. Shay continued that since the local police discontinued the ambulance service that began with presentation of the $15,000 community ambulance by the Kiwanis Club, the fire department took it over and has maintained it along with regular protection duties.

With a complement of 54 men, the department is still short five men needed to ensure full fire protection in a city of this size, Mr. Shay said. He emphasized that national underwriters association has urged Williamsport to increase its force to number more than 100.

Asked whether a 24-hour a day service could be established here, Mr. Shay said provisions of the 1946 budget eliminated creation of any new division.

Cost of such a bureau is estimated at $10,000 annually.

Compiled by Lou Hunsinger Jr.

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