Western Berks paramedics settle into newly rebuilt station after 2021 fire

November 21, 2022 - Mackenzie Coombs

On February 18th, 2021, tragedy struck the Western Berks Ambulance station in West Lawn. An idle ambulance parked outside the station suddenly caught on fire. The vehicle was inactive for about 30 minutes before the fire broke out. Thankfully, the Spring Township Fire Department made a tremendous effort to knock down the fire. Without their help, the entire building would have caught fire, and the building’s integrity would’ve been ruined.

“You know, we’ve come to see now that Ford has had some issue with some of their SUVs catching on fire, and told them to park the vehicle outside. So, we’re thinking that it’s along those lines because they’re the same areas” said Anthony Tucci, Chief Executive Director for Western Berks Ambulance, recalling the fire.

The building was stripped to cinder blocks. Almost everything in the building is brand new–except some of the rafters. Berg Construction did a great job reconstructing the building in its entirety. The overall duration of the reconstruction took about 18 months.

New workstation for paramedics.

“So everything in here is brand new, except for the walls. The four cinder block walls or anything that was cinderblock stayed. They got here and made a tremendous effort to cease the fire, or it would have been the entirety of the building” said Tucci walking through the building.

During the reconstruction efforts, the company wanted to stay local and use contractors and vendors. They were staying local because Western Berks Ambulance is a local organization. Since they’re a nonprofit, they wanted to give back to those who give back. Berg Construction and PNG, and others like that, all were the contractors that brought the building back to life.

From paramedic to CEO

Tucci has been employed by Western Berks for approximately 28 years. He began as a paramedic and slowly started making his way through the ranks before being promoted to Executive Director.

“On a daily basis, there is a host of things. Every day is different. It can range from looking at policies, operational plans, and budgets. Of course, responding to calls. There’s a numerous amount of things to do. On the business end of things, we go to municipal meetings, meeting with municipal leaders, and county commissioners. Things like that” Tucci said.

He enjoys looking at data analytics. “I don’t get to do it often, but mainly, I spend my time working with data, and seeing where we are in development to see how far we’ve come as a company.”

During a tour of the building, Anthony Tucci invites Reporter Mackenzie Coombs to sit on a stretcher for a patients perspective.

Investing in the future

Western Berks Ambulance covers about 379 square miles. There are 21 municipalities in the stations’ primary response. Within this large area, there are 6 different stations, all employing a multitude of paramedics and EMTs. They are the largest nonprofit ambulance service in Berks County.

The organization also provides a learning experience for high school students and others that are interested in being in emergency services.

Students gain real experience in the ambulances by working with all paramedic providers. Some interns are being sent to EMT school while working as a volunteer. It helps fulfill the ranks amongst the crew, but they’re always looking for volunteers who are interested in learning or can help contribute in different ways.

“We’re paying to send a few of our own to paramedic school right now. This helps us to fulfill our ranks, but we’re always looking for more volunteers. Anyone who wants to gain important life skills and learn are welcome to join our crew!”