Beginning Dec. 1, Penn State Health will have a physician-in-training riding along on some Penn State Health Life Lion EMS ambulance calls in Lancaster County.

Through its partnership with Penn State College of Medicine, Penn State Health previously had emergency physicians in its fellowship training going along on some field calls in Berks, Dauphin and Lebanon counties. That program has now been extended to Lancaster County.

“Expanding this innovative program is a reflection of our commitment to provide high-quality care to the community we serve, from the moment of an emergency call through a patient’s journey back to good health,” Dr. Michael Reihart, director of emergency services at Penn State Health Lancaster Medical Center in East Hempfield Township, said in a news release issued by Penn State Health.

Life Lion EMS operates ambulances as well as three helicopters that are part of its critical care services. The physician fellows will only join crews on the ambulance calls where they will offer prehospital emergency care, as well as coaching and education.

“Most emergency physicians in training do not have the opportunity to give prehospital care in the field, so we are working to enhance that educational access and in turn allow these doctors to bring field expertise back to the inpatient setting and ensure a continuum of care,” Dr. Francis Mencl, chief of the Division of Life Lion Emergency Medical Services at Hershey Medical Center and program director of the EMS fellowship, said in the news release.

Life Lion EMS offers 24/7 EMS and 911 response to numerous municipalities in Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lebanon, Lancaster, Perry, and York counties.

In Lancaster County, Life Lion EMS annually handles around 11,000 calls. It provides primary 911 coverage to East and West Hempfield townships as well as Mount Joy, Columbia, East Petersburg and Mountville boroughs. It also provides service to some of Rapho Township.

“Our EMS clinicians in the field have been appreciative of this way of coaching and growing their skills to provide for their patients,” Keith McMinn, director of Penn State Health Life Lion Services in Hershey, said in the news release. “This type of collaboration, support and leadership is invaluable in an environment where a timely response is critical.”

In addition to support in the field, the emergency physician in fellowship training will participate in educational sessions with Penn State Health Life Lion’s in-house emergency medical technician training course. The four-month program takes place at Penn State Health’s EMS facility in Mount Joy Borough.

The expansion into Lancaster County of Penn State Health’s EMS ride-along program for physician fellows follows the Oct. 3 opening of its new hospital in East Hempfield Township. The 132-bed, $375 million Lancaster Medical Center at 2160 State Road offers primary, specialty and acute care and includes a state-of-the art emergency department.

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