Fitzpatrick, House Pass Groundbreaking ‘Danny Mac’ Bill

Fitzpatrick proposal strengthens Public Safety Officers Benefits.

Public safety officers are one step closer to ensuring their families are protected should the unthinkable occur while protecting our communities.

According to a release, the House of Representatives today passed the “Daniel McIntosh” Public Safety Officers Benefits bill, which would extend Public Safety Officer Benefits to the families of emergency service personnel who die in the line of duty in service to a non-profit organization.  Current federal law limits these benefits only to emergency service personnel employed by governmental units.

“Emergency service personnel encounter potentially dangerous situations every time they answer a call. Their selfless devotion serving their community keeps our neighborhoods safe and protected,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-8th), “It is paramount we afford them the peace of mind that their families will not be financially burdened should the unthinkable occur. “

In March of 2010, Bensalem Paramedic Daniel McIntosh responded to a 911 call where a dangerous caller fled the scene to potentially harm their neighbors.  In recognizing the danger the caller posed, Danny Mac tried to chase him down.  In the process, McIntosh suffered a massive heart attack and died in the line of duty.  This husband and father of two young daughters was only 39 years old.

Unfortunately, because of a tragic oversight in the laws governing the program, Danny Mac’s family was denied the death benefit they deserve because he was serving on an ambulance run by a non-profit, not a municipality.

“I introduced the Danny McIntosh Act to correct this oversight,” said Fitzpatrick, “Not only does this bill right a wrong, but, it will even save tax dollars by securing the well-being of the program in a fiscally responsible manner.”  

A Hulmeville Borough police officer, Danny McIntosh was a thirteen year veteran of the Bensalem Emergency Medical Services.  He was a volunteer firefighter for the Point Pleasant Fire Company and had achieved Life Member status.  He was a member of the Nottingham Fire Department, a Medic for the Bucks County Southern SWAT Team and the Bucks County Hazardous Material SWAT Team.

“Danny loved every aspect of his job. This legislation is an honor to his service and dedication as an emergency responder. It is a bill he would have supported if he was alive today and it will help not just our family but those of other fallen first responders nationwide,” said Bethann McIntosh, widow to Daniel McIntosh, ”I would like to thank Congressman Fitzpatrick and his dedicated staff for their continued support to my daughters and I.”

“I urge the Senate to join me in this effort to protect those who protect our communities,” closed Fitzpatrick, “not only can we do right by our first responders, but we can make the Public Safety Officers Benefit program solvent in the long term.”

Editor: Joe Hart

‘He wasn’t blue. He was white.’

Rescue workers said it took more than 12 minutes to restore life to a 2-year-old boy found at the bottom of a swimming pool.

Two-year-old Jude Antoni was dead.

If not for a neighbor, a fireman and six paramedics, he still would be.

Pulled from the depths of a backyard swimming pool, Jude “wasn’t blue. He was white,” neighbor Kristen Schmidt remembered. “He wasn’t breathing. There was no pulse.”

Schmidt would know. Schmidt knows trauma.

As an emergency room nurse, the 39-year-old mother of one is used to working under pressure. But this wasn’t the ER. This was the boy next door.

“This experience was just so different,” Schmidt said. “This little boy – he and my son they look so much alike they could be brothers.”

“In the ER, you have other people to help you,” she continued. “And this was all happening on my lawn.

“Jude’s father, Sandy, came over and asked if we knew where his little boy was and we all just went looking for him,” Schmidt said. “First, I went across the street. When I came back to the house, I remember seeing Jude’s father in the pool. And I saw my husband lifting Jude out of the water.

“I couldn’t even tell you how long I was there on the lawn,” she continued. “My husband called 911. I remember the dispatcher had all these questions he wanted my husband to answer on the phone and I just kept screaming to him, ‘Just tell them to get here!’ And then I would make compressions and breath, compressions and then breath, compressions and breath. I just kept going.”

When the paramedics arrived, Schmidt said Nottingham volunteer firefighter Rob Sponheimer “just scooped Jude up. They had him in that ambulance right away.”

Inside the ambulance, Sponheimer joined paramedics Tom Topley, Christopher L. Adams, Michael Armstrong, Lindsay Brescia and Edward C. Copper Jr. perform CPR on the little boy for more than 12 minutes, they said.

” He was dead,” Topley remembered. “I know we worked on him for more than 10 minutes. I don’t know when he finally responded, it may have been in the hospital.”

In cases of pediatric drowning, Topley said paramedics often need to continue CPR until the body warms up enough for emergency drugs to start working.

“Your first job is to secure the air in the body and the CPR circulates that oxygenated air in the body,” Topley explained. “We just kept it going.”

The drowning was so traumatic for the crew that a psychologist was called in the next day to counsel them. “A pediatric drowning can be a once in a lifetime call and it’s a hard one. It would be a difficult experience for anyone,” Topley said.

“In this case,” he added, “I don’t think this boy would still be alive if not for the teamwork – the fact that we had a nurse right there, next door, and the work of a fireman and paramedics right there for the handoff.”

The rescue happened on May 29, 2008. For their efforts, Schmidt, Sponheimer, Topley, Adams, Armstrong, Brescia and Copper all were named “Real Heroes of Bucks County” by the American Red Cross.

The experience has changed the lives of the Schmidt and Antoni families forever, they said.

It can be very disturbing at times to be a paramedic, Adams said. “When things are tough, I kind of think back to Jude. It’s nice to get a happy ending once in a while.”

Jude’s mom, Julie, still struggles to comprehend the “miracle.” Jude was in the hospital for several months but made a full recovery, she said.

“What science tells us about what should have happened that night and what did happened – they’re just two different things,” she said.

Bucks County Courier Times

EMS becomes Aetna in-network provider

Aetna-insured patients who call 911 for an ambulance in Bensalem should no longer need to dread getting a bill for the portion of the transportation cost Aetna won’t cover.

In a deal that Aetna officials hope will mark the start of a trend, the health care company has signed a five-year contract with Bensalem Emergency Medical Services, in which the ambulance corps will essentially join Aetna’s list of in-network providers.

The contract sets the amount that the ambulance company will receive from Aetna whenever it takes an Aetna customer to the emergency room and eliminates the need for Bensalem EMS to bill the patient afterward.

“The predictability is great because Bensalem EMS knows what it’s going to be paid by Aetna and our members don’t have to worry [about being billed],” said Aetna spokesman Walt Cherniak.

Bensalem EMS approached Aetna with the proposal after the insurance company announced last summer that it was capping its ambulance company reimbursements at a rate equal to what the federal Medicare system provides, plus an additional 25 percent.

Thomas Topley, Bensalem EMS’ executive director, estimated that the change would have reduced Aetna’s reimbursement to the EMS squad by about $86,000 this year. “And we would have to bill the Aetna patients for the difference,” Topley said.

While the terms of the contract weren’t released, Topley said the new reimbursement rate would be less than 100 percent, but more than it would have received under the change Aetna announced last summer.

“We were able to meet the insurance company in the middle,” he said.

Bensalem EMS responds to almost 6,000 emergencies per year, mostly in Bensalem and Lower Southampton. Though the ambulance corps gets money from local taxes and receives grants from the state and federal government, fees for its services accounted for 68 percent of its revenue in 2006.

Most of the patients it serves have Medicare or Independence Blue Cross insurance. The rates from Medicare, a government program, aren’t negotiable. And Topley said Bensalem EMS approached Blue Cross two years ago with a similar proposal, but was unable to seal the deal.

Topley added that knowing exactly what Aetna will pay should help the ambulance company plan its annual budgets. The contract isn’t expected to impact response time or require the Bensalem EMS to take on non-emergency transportation calls for Aetna clients, he said.

Though the insurance company will reimburse Bensalem EMS at a higher rate than its standard Medicare plus 25 percent, Aetna said it expects to earn some goodwill with its investment. Cherniak said the deal would eliminate angry phone calls from customers to Aetna about why the insurance company did not cover more of the Bensalem EMS cost.

“There is a benefit to us as well — happier members and a better customer experience,” said Cherniak.

Most EMS providers do not belong to managed care networks. In fact, Cherniak said he didn’t think Aetna had any other contracts with ambulance companies in the region, but he added he believes this had been done in other parts of the country.

“We hope this is the first of others to come,” he said. “We hope this opens up the door to more deals where ambulance companies elect to pursue contract arrangements with Aetna.”

Cherniak said he didn’t believe the deal would make Aetna clients more likely to abuse the system by calling 911 for a Bensalem EMS ambulance when it isn’t absolutely necessary.

“That wasn’t part of the discussion,” he said.

Aetna provides health benefits for more than 850,000 members in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

John Anastasi can be reached at 215-949-4170 or

Bucks County Courier Times