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Bensalem EMS History

About Us

Bensalem Emergency Medical Services (BEMS) was founded by Carole Czerniak, Donald Kueny, and Gene Fanini in 1980. What once was an entirely volunteer organization is now a private, non-profit that provides emergency medical services in Bensalem Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania to its residents and visitors. Bensalem Emergency Medical services also provides mutual aid to neighboring squads in Bucks County. Services are provided 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Currently, the squad is overseen by Executive Director Thomas Topley who started at BEMS as a volunteer in the early 1980s.


BEMS provides a Mobile Stroke Unit that is in partnership with Jefferson Health and the Vicki and Jack Farber Institute for Neuroscience to Bensalem Township, Bristol Township, Bristol Borough, Middletown Township, Langhorne Borough and Manor, Penndel Borough, Hulmeville Borough, Falls Township, Tullytown Borough, Lower Southampton Township, Upper Southampton Township, and Northampton Township since its inauguration in 2019. Together, they provide groundbreaking stroke care in a state-of-the-art manner at the location of the emergency.


BEMS is also partnered with Bucks County Drug & Alcohol to provide services to those looking to recover from addiction or those that desire extra support throughout their recovery process. They respond to substance abuse related emergencies in the township as well as do follow up visits for rehabilitation placement. An EMT or Paramedic alongside a certified recovery specialist make up the team who will help community members take this crucial step towards recovery.

History of Bensalem EMS

Before the organization became Bensalem Rescue Squad/Bensalem Emergency Medical Services (BEMS), we were a substation for Bucks County Rescue Squad which at the time covered a majority of Lower Bucks County, PA. In 1980, Carole Czerniak, Gene Fanini, and Donald Kueny founded Bensalem Rescue Squad as its own entity aside from Bucks County Rescue Squad. At that time all the members were volunteers and had basic first aid. Paramedics were still a newer concept country-wide by the time BEMS was started and many volunteers did not hold an EMT certification. Now ambulances are staffed with one or both of each.


Bensalem Emergency Medical Services was not always what we are today. BEMS was originally made up of volunteers who staffed the ambulances for the township. Volunteers often responded from their homes to the stations when a call came in. Over the years as the township grew, volunteerism lessened as career staff came in to make 24/7 ambulance coverage a reality.

Through The Years

2003: Bensalem EMS breaks 5,300 runs. Full time staff received certification from the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress in Hazardous Material Technician and Confined Space Rescue Technician. CPAP devices were added to the ambulances.


2004: Philadelphia Park adds slot machines. Staff obtained certification as well as National and International recognition for training in Trench Rescue Technician and Structural Collapse Technician. BEMS leads a project to computerize PCRs. 12- lead EKG monitors are added to the ambulances to improve cardiac care.


2005: 25 years in service! Started out as two used ambulances that needed a lot of maintenance to six MICU ambulances in our fleet. Crews were sent to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina and Rita to help with rescue efforts.


2006: IO equipment goes into service. Squad competes in the Annual Rescue Challenge in Virginia. BEMS pilots the MDT/CAD program with BC911 to improve communications. Philadelphia Park and Casino officially opens.


2008: Squad breaks ground and moves into a newly renovated building later in the year. The squad saw a 9% increase in call volume due to Philadelphia Park and Casino opening. The BLS power shift was introduced to help with the call volume increase as well as seeing a decrease in response times. With that, the squad broke 6,000 runs. Squad became the first in the area to be approved to use Etomidate for airway management. 2 ALS units were sent to Louisiana to help with the recovery efforts after Hurricane Gustav and Ike. Bensalem begins providing fire and EMS services for a local industrial company due to the extensive training providers have.


2009: Bensalem Public Safety Training Center opens which allows staff to continue to improve and fine tune their rescue skills. Mobile simulation lab goes in service to help improve EMT/paramedic skills in the field. Squad upgrades heart monitors to include external pacing, monitor the patient’s pulse oximetry and carbon dioxide levels. The monitors also allow crews to send EKG’s to the local hospitals and directly into their patient care reports.


2010: Squad breaks 7,000 calls. Township shows support through financial hardship by approving a tax increase to help the squad stay adequately staffed. Squad faced a significant loss with the line of duty death of Paramedic Daniel MacIntosh while helping a suicidal subject. Danny Mac’s memory will forever live on with BEMS.


2011: SWAT medics receive training in Tactical Combat Casualty Care to help improve the medicine used in a tactical setting and in the street. Several years of Ford problems led to the formation of the ambulance committee to research and design the ambulances the squad will purchase to maintain its fleet.


2012: Danny Mac and Dale Long bill becomes a law ensuring that families of fallen paramedics will be paid federal benefits to help with the loss of their loved one. Hurricane Sandy strikes the area causing the squad to have its busiest operations period yet, 72 calls in 58 hours. BEMS also sent commanders to work with strike teams in New Jersey after the destruction of Sandy. Mobile Airway Lab gets selected to be used during Bucks County’s annual in-service training for paramedics. Parx (Philadelphia Park and Casino) continues its support for the squad and its growing call volume since its opening by making generous donations once again.


2013: Squad works with Aria-Torresdale Hospital to ensure patient care is uninterrupted while moving to their temporary ED. They also worked together for the squad to become equipped to transmit 12-lead EKGs to the local hospitals by providing a grant. Parx continued its support for the squad VIA funding which helped the squad maintain its level of service with CPR and defibrillation training. BEMS continues to work with BTFD and BPD to ensure all parties work together seamlessly in the community. A crew was sent to work with WestVaco Fire Brigade in the Technical Rescue Association of Virginia Rescue Challenge. Some staff went to Tier1Sof training which crews worked through multi casualty active shooter scenarios. BEMS was selected to work with Bucks County to select a new PCR software to be used throughout the county in the coming year.


2014: Tough financial year in 2013 led to the cut of the power truck. Lower Bucks Hospital donated two video laryngoscopes to the squad to help with airway management. BEMS creates a T.E.C.C. course to teach first responders how to approach an active shooter situation. They also teamed up with Tactical Medical Solutions to create a response kit to leave next to AEDs that is made up of tourniquets, bandages, etc. Blood Draw Pilot program begins which allows paramedics the ability to do DUI blood draws for the police department. New trip sheet software arrives for a test drive. First Ebola patient is confirmed in the US and BEMS was able to form a complete team of trained providers and an equipped ambulance through PEMA to respond to Ebola patients who need to be transported to designated facilities.


2016: Squad works with lawyers to come up with ways to be able to obtain payment from patients who keep insurance issued checks that are supposed to cover their bills or just don’t pay at all.


2018: Xcite Center opens in Parx which has a 1,500 seating capacity. BEMS worked with fire and police to assess community needs while events were held and it was determined ALS services would be needed during sporting events in the center. BEMS conducted a forensic audit for the first time in over 10 years. Liberty Gas station explosion occurs on June 12th. One person was missing in the explosion and another was transported to Jefferson-Torresdale Hospital with severe burns then later transferred to Jefferson University Hospital. Crews remained on scene for 24 hours and made multiple entries into the vault in which the initial explosion occurred. This destroyed approximately $10,000 worth of gear the squad had. Incidents like this is why BEMS trains the way we do. BEMS received a grant to conduct different levels of active shooter training in the county.


2019: Mobile Stroke Unit goes into service. In partnership with Jefferson Health and the Vicki and Jack Farber Institute for Neuroscience, this serves Bensalem Township, Middletown Township, Penndel Borough, Hulmeville Borough, Langhorne borough, Langhorne Manor, Falls Township, Tullytown Borough, Bristol Township, and Bristol Borough. The MSU team is made up of an EMT driver, paramedic, registered nurse, and a cat scan tech. A video consultation with a neuroscience physician, as well as a CT, are done in the back of the ambulance. Later that year, the MSU was able to give tPA to its first patient that met the guidelines of receiving PA.


2021: The first and only Highly Infectious Disease Ambulance for Bucks County was placed in service. This truck will help local agencies in Bucks County if they come in contact with a patient who is suspected to have a rare, highly infectious disease and transport them to a designated center for the disease. Highmark Grant helps upgrade the fleet with having the capability of a negative pressure atmosphere to create a safer environment for employees and patients given the current times with the COVID pandemic. AFG funding was received for the squad to receive new cardiac monitors since the current equipment is 15 years old. PAPRs were purchased to help staff maintain their health and safety in the event of major procedures being done that cause virus particles to aerosolize from the patient and into the air. July 29th, an F3 tornado struck the area, mainly in the Trevose section of the township. On December 9th, BEMS lost an integral part of its beginning operations, Joe Hutlemeyer. Joe was a member of the board of directors from 1980 to 2015.


2022: 911 EMS call volume continues to rise.  The Squad again adds a BLS power truck to provide more service to the community.  Discussions and planning begin to increase the size of community training center.  Due to a nationally decreasing EMS workforce and while expanding the community training center, Bensalem EMS receives a grant to develop a new emergency medical technician (EMT) training program and purchase a new Laerdal Sim Man 3G to replace the previous Sim Man purchased in 2009 to be utilized in the mobile training center and Squad classroom.  The Squad also receives a grant to purchase a new ambulance to add to the fleet.  Throughout the year, Bensalem EMS responded to over 9,000 emergency 911 calls.

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