Rescue squad closed for alleged slow response times -

Rescue squad closed for alleged slow response times

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 Members of the Downe Township EMS Rescue Squad 36 have been locked out of their building after township committee members say they were missing emergency calls.

"The way they handled it was wrong," said frustrated Assistant Chief of the Downe Township Rescue Squad, Mark Upham Sr.

Following an executive session Monday night, the township committee decided to temporarily close the rescue squad and approved a shared services agreement with nearby Lawrence Township - who will now respond with their ambulances in the case of an emergency.

Officials from the committee say they decided to close the squad due to ongoing issues with response frequency and response times.

Downe Mayor, Bob Campbell, explained, "I've got the reports and maybe this year, the first month or two, they were a little bit better than they are normally…but last year they were terrible!  They were missing 4 out of 10 calls and that's unacceptable."

However, members of the rescue squad say they rarely missed calls and that the committee's reasons for shutting them down are simply inaccurate.

Mark Upham Sr. said, "45 calls and we missed 3.  Being a volunteer organization, I think that's pretty good."

Downe officials say it's solely a matter of making their community safer by never missing a call.  Mayor Campbell explained, "There was no conspiracy, there is nobody answering to anybody, it's just a matter of making the rescue service in our community as efficient as it can be -that's all it's all about."

Rescue squad members from Downe Township say they are mostly frustrated with the situation because of the way they were notified about being shut down.  Squad members explained that on Tuesday morning a locksmith changed the locks after committee members posted a temporary ‘shut-down notice' on their door.

Upham Sr. told NBC40, "I am frustrated because they don't even have the nerve to pick up the phone and say, 'Hey, we want to have a meeting with you.'"  Rescue squad member, Susan Cacciamani, said, "I would like an explanation and maybe even an apology on how we were treated."

Officials say there is a meeting scheduled for April 22nd to sit down and discuss the issue further.  Until then, Downe Township resident's are without their local rescue squad as the township's lone ambulance sits locked away.

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