Tri-Community South EMS 40th Anniversary… a Look at the Fourth Decade

Updated: Jan 29, 2019

By Becky Brindle


Tri-Community South EMS Honor Guard, May 2009

For the past year, USC TODAY has helped celebrate the 40th anniversary of Tri-Community South EMS (TCS) with a special article about each decade. Readers have learned about a lot of changes that occurred throughout the last 40 years. Equipment is more technologically advanced, ambulances are improved, and certification is more extensive.


However, one thing has not changed. The service remains dedicated and includes hard-working employees who are happy to help their fellow citizens. “The care we give is very solid,” said supervisor Kevin Trichtinger.


TCS has earned numerous awards and recognitions during the last ten years. This past June, TCS received a three-year accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services for its compliance with national standards of excellence. TCS is one of approximately 180 ambulance services in the country to successfully complete the voluntary review process, which includes completion of a comprehensive application and on-site review by national experts in emergency medical services. TCS has received this recognition every three years since 2006.



Tri-Community South serves Upper St. Clair, Bethel Park and South Park

Since 2015, TCS has participated in the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline EMS program, recognizing the need for better comprehensive care for those suffering from cardiovascular emergencies. TCS has been awarded Silver, Gold, and Bronze-Plus recognition in the program.


In December 2013, TCS received recognition at the Master level in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s EMS for Children Voluntary Recognition Program. The multi-level system requires compliance with basic equipment standards, ChildLine background clearances for all personnel, advanced pediatric education for providers, and community outreach programs. As a result of the inspections and documentation gathered and provided, TCS was awarded recognition at the highest level. It made TCS among the first 20 EMS agencies in Pennsylvania to be recognized at the Master level.


Thirteen TCS employees have been recommended for and have received the Star of Life award since the program’s implementation in 2007. The Stars of Life award is given to EMS providers who particularly exemplify the “efforts and importance of the job our everyday heroes provide to the residents of the Commonwealth.” Most recently in 2018, TCS’s Dave Britton and Steve Britton were honored as the first father/son Star of Life awardees at a ceremony in Harrisburg.



TCS director Nora Helfrich (center) with Dave Britton (left) and Steve Britton (right), both of whom received the 2018 Star of Life award

In November 2008, TCS director Nora Helfrich was recognized by the Emergency Medical Service Institute (EMSI) for her outstanding contributions to EMS in southwestern Pennsylvania.


The dedication of TCS employees is also evident through their years of service. Four TCS employees have more than 30 years of service under their belts. Ten employees have more than 20 years. “We see people when they’re having their worst days, and we get to help them,” said Kevin. “We have the opportunity to positively affect people’s lives.”



Tri-Community South EMS booth at the 2017 Upper St. Clair Community Day

Unfortunately, in the past decade, the pool of qualified paramedic applicants has declined. Officials at TCS hope more young people will consider a career as a paramedic. “It’s certainly not a boring job. Every day is different,” said Kevin.


TCS, a membership-driven organization, has also experienced a falling subscriber base in the last few years. “Insurance companies have severely limited ambulance reimbursement,” said Kevin. “It’s an absolute reason why residents should subscribe.”


Due to more EMS services going out of business and a decrease of EMTs and paramedics going into the profession, the support from the Upper St. Clair, Bethel Park, and South Park communities is more important than ever. No tax dollars are used to fund TCS. Won’t you consider subscribing for an annual fee of just $60? Annual subscriptions that include medical transport coverage not only protect you and your household members and guests, they go a long way to help support your EMS service today and, hopefully, for another 40 years. 


Tri-Community South EMS fleet in 2017

Tri-Community South  - Subscribe Today


Subscription brochures for the 2019 campaign drive were mailed to Tri-Community South EMS’s three communities at the end of October. If you’ve not yet subscribed for the coming year, please do so. With your help, TCS can, and will, be ready to help you!


So, why subscribe? Many people incorrectly assume that their health insurance will pay all ambulance fees; however, this is not the case. Whatever is not covered by insurance becomes the responsibility of the patient and can exceed $600 for a single ambulance trip. No insurance plan pays for an ambulance visit to a residence that results in treatment without transportation to a hospital. The fee for this service, which can run between $200 and $250, is the sole responsibility of the patient. These charges, however, can be reduced by joining TCS as a subscriber. For a fee of $60 a year, each household family member is protected from incurring unnecessary bills for emergency ambulance service. In 2019, the following applies:


  • When subscribers are transported via ambulance, TCS accepts the insurance reimbursement and the subscriber is responsible for only 50% of the copay or the deductible not covered by the subscriber’s insurance policy.

  • For subscribers receiving treatment without transport, subscribers are responsible for only 50% of the fee for this service.

  • Lift assists are a non-covered expense. 


Visit http://tcsems.org/ to subscribe today for this important service.



TCS supervisor Will Thomas teaches a Stop the Bleed class in 2017. School districts and police and fire departments took the class offered by TCS.

If any group or organization would like to have a speaker from TCS attend a meeting to talk about the subscription plan or any other topic related to emergency healthcare, contact TCS at 412-831-3710, extension 109.

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