Thornhurst Ambulance Squad Fighting to Survive

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THORNHURST TOWNSHIP – Changes in ambulance service in part of Monroe County has one department in nearby Lackawanna County fighting to survive.

Thornhurst Ambulance Squad is meeting Monday night with leaders from Coolbaugh Township to try and sort out EMS coverage in several gated communities.

Thornhurst Ambulance Squad used to be the primary EMS provider to two gated communities in the Poconos. But Tobyhanna and Coolbaugh Townships now have Pocono Mountain Regional EMS taking care of those calls – something that could cause some major changes in both Lackawanna and Monroe Counties in the near future.

After about 35 years of responding to calls, Thornhurst Ambulance Squad is now fighting to survive. Just last month, the mostly volunteer ambulance service got notice from Monroe County 911 that Thornhurst was no longer the primary responder to Arrowhead Lake or Riverfront Estates, two communities only minutes away.

"We don't really understand that. We've never had any complaints. They've never called us, so we're not really sure at this point,” said Thornhurst Ambulance Squad Captain Sue Remak.

Taking over is Pocono Mountain Regional EMS, a paid provider.

Coolbaugh and Tobyhanna Townships made the decision. According to Township meeting minutes, response time and dropped calls were the main concern.

Thornhurst’s captain says she has proof her volunteers respond faster.

"About six to seven minutes faster,” said Remak.

"And what does that mean to someone in medical trouble?"

“Life and death,” replied Remak.

Some residents who live at Arrowhead Lakes say Thornhurst Ambulance has always been reliable, and this new change in service isn't sitting well with many of the people who live here.

"I think it's a disgrace, because here at Thornhurst is only two, three miles away, they're prompt,” said Elmer Money of Coolbaugh Township.

Homer and Monica Money both live in Arrowhead Lake. They’re concerned Pocono Mountain Regional is too far away for the hundreds of seniors living here.

"If they have to wait for an ambulance to reach them, they're not going to make it,” said Monica Money.

Coolbaugh Township supervisors told Newswatch 16 they will hold a fact finding meeting Monday night.

But Thornhurst says if their ambulance can’t respond to those private developments, they’ll have to shut down due to a lack of funds – and then other Lackawanna County Ambulance Crews will have to cover calls in Thornhurst.

"Hopefully coming out of it, they'll understand they made a mistake, if not, we'll have to give our notice,” said Thornhurst Ambulance Squad Volunteer Steven MacDonald.

That meeting is Monday at 7p.m. at the Thornhurst Volunteer Company. Residents from Arrowhead Lake say they expect hundreds of people to attend.



    Hey there Amanda, first of all lets just take a look at the “average” volunteer. Its mostly filled with the maniac drivers like mentioned below who really only get excited for the drive not the helping of someone. I was also at a young age in the local Fire company it was complete joke. I can tell you the older guys would use different equipment for there own house and yes I even saw guys take stuff all the time. Another example of the buddy program. The dumpster at the fire company was filled weekly but by the guys running it thru there own garbage (so they didn’t have to pay for a sticker) and also the best was a guy who did cleanouts and then would burn behind the building all the garbage he was paid to haul.

    Second the motion private business works, public funded costs more in the long run with mismanagement and misuse!

    • Matt


      First I would like to say I am a proud member of an all volunteer ambulance corps. I am proud to say that non of my members are “glory seekers” or are there for the excitement of ‘the drive”. The rules have changed recently what an ambulance can and cannot run lights and sirens too. The fun of “the drive” is no more. The “average” volunteer has changed. There are less and less of us, so the ones that volunteer tend to want to provide the care for the community. I know everyone in the ambulance corps I am involved with enjoys doing what we do for free. We dont take advantage of a dumpster we dont treat anyone different because we know them. WE are here for the benefit of the public. Times have changed from when you were in the department. I am not saying all departments are perfect but a volunteer still dedicates his or her time for nothing.

  • Amanda

    I would love to see what you would all do without these VOLUNTEER departments – go ahead and let it all be paid. You’ll be crying when you’re taxes go way up to pay for it. Guess what happens when your house burns down or you wreck your car…some VOLUNTEER that you have nothing good to say about leaves his home…his family…his wife…his kids…to come save YOU! Does he get paid for this? No! I bet when you have a heart attack at your home you’ll be darn happy that the VOLUNTEER drove as fast as he could to come save your life! I bet when your children are stuck in the 2nd floor of your burning home you’ll be even happier that they volunteer was in a hurry to come rescue them. People are unreal. Where does the money come from that they use to stock their own fridges? Money they’ve either earned as a company, or money that’s come out of their own pockets!

  • *Neighbor to MOOCHER *

    I’m only speculating but reading the previous comments I believe people are referring in general to the volunteers. I can also agree the township I live in buys soda and food for events the fire company holds yet I can tell you the good ol boy system does rob it blind. Seen it working with my own eyes taking items for home personal use. Soda, food, even a water pump once. Volunteer services sounds great but in the end they don’t work out. I think the best way would be a regional service for communities.

    Also for the comment of the get the license plate and turn it in. Well I called one day the state police about a car on 81 that almost ran me on the road (no blue lighter just a whacker) and they didn’t even care. They said they would note it incase more calls came in. So sorry there bud nice idea but won’t go anywhere.

    PS not sticking up for all comments on here by no means, but my neighbor is a township everything (paid supervisor, paid road work etc) love how the township truck plows his driveway, uses the weedwacker from township in summer. The best was the free road salt he brought home in 5gallons buckets all winter. Ya that took the cake no wait that was gone too. LOL LOL CORRUPT PA

  • Ben S

    Stupidity running wild on here today! First of all, Thornhurst EMS is a paid service. How would I know? I worked there for over a decade. They are volunteer during the night time. Secondly, they are private! They receive little or no money from the township or taxes. They survive on fund drive revenue and revenue received from people paying their EMS bills.

    For the idiot talking about “pilfering the fridge for food”… who do you think paid to put that food there? It wasn’t your tax dollars, that’s for sure! Very, very few companies in the North Pocono area are supported by their townships/tax dollars. Hence all the fundraising they do (carnivals, dinners, breakfasts, ect ect)! So no, your opinion isn’t worth anything. Again, the companies buy their own stuff so I am not sure what “township items” are going missing. Poor attempt at making fire companies look bad cuz you lost your bid at a township supervisor’s spot.

    Yes “blue lighters” can be a pain in the butt, and downright dangerous at times. However, the alternative is fully paid departments. You’re crying about tax dollars these companies don’t receive now… how about adding 20-30 full time firefighters at a range of $40,000-$65,000 a year in every township? Yeah, I didn’t think you’d like that option either. Get the license plate number and turn it into PSP. PSP keeps a list of who is allowed to use these lights for each department. Turn the whacker in, they get a ticket, they learn a lesson.

    You’re all welcome for the brief lesson in how things really work. If you need more lessons, just ask. I’ve been doing this for 17 plus years (started volunteer, now full time career) and will gladly fill you in.

  • Frank T.

    Like the comment on the BLUE LIGHT NUTS, especially love when they pass me at warp speed and that speaks for there mentality also. Its a shame but tax dollars are wasted without thought at local townships. I quit a volunteer fire company 20years ago for the blue light nuts and other things i didn’t agree with. Private Business is the BEST BUSINESS

  • Sara

    Volunteer service doesn’t cut it anymore. I especially like my neighbor who is a 90mph maniac everytime the whistle goes off. I wonder who will respond to the responder who is a insane driver like most are. Go join nascar sick of people with BLUE lights thinking its ok to do 90 mph passing people and blowing the horn. I also welcome private companies.


    Well in my opinion for what its worth. I can tell you having dealt with several VOLUNTEER fire/ambulance companies, there is so much waste going on. To volunteers pilfering the fridges of food and drink to many other Township “ITEMS” Too many local townships are corrupt from minor robbing to major theft. The public trust is lost I no longer pay any volunteer funds would rather pay private business for service.

    • David Booth

      what does that even have to do with the story.Like commenting on a cop story about the corruption in the PA State Police.

  • Sharon Flannigan

    Regarding the Thornhurst Ambulance story…you incorrectly named my community “Riverfront Estates”……There is no such development…The correct name is RIVERSIDE ESTATES.
    Thank you.

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