SHAMOKIN - The first emergency call Bernard "Bernie" Rumberger responded to under the AREA Services banner was for a nosebleed, and the patient was his grandmother, Emma Haddock.

Things have certainly changed since that day in 1989, but the company is still focused on the same thing: caring for patients.

"I always hoped that it would be like this when we started in my mom and dad's garage," said Rumberger, company owner and CEO.

AREA - or Anthracite Routine Emergency Ambulance - marked its 25th anniversary earlier this month, having endured some growing pains to become one of the most recognized ambulance services in the region.

Starting with a single ambulance, AREA Services today boasts a fleet of 18 ambulances, five paramedic and squad trucks and five wheelchair vans. The company has expanded across Northumberland County, and now also services some areas of Snyder, Union and Columbia counties. In addition to its hometown location, AREA has ambulance garages in Northumberland, Atlas and, as of recently, Danville, to help transport patients from the Geisinger campus.

In 2008, AREA expanded in Shamokin, too, moving from a garage on Sixth Street to the former Shamokin police station, where a major renovation project upgraded the building to beautiful modern standards.

Rumberger said the staff jokes about having more than quadrupled its space from a 2,400-square-foot garage to a 10,000-square-foot building and still not having enough room.

"I wonder how we had it all in the old place," he said.

The staff has expanded, too. From three family members at the start, it has grown to more than 80 employees, including second-generation members of the Rumbergers.

Call volume - all started with that one nosebleed - has increased to approximately 15,000 calls a year.

Call by cowbell

That first day, Rumberger's sister, Gia Koshinskie, reported for work in the garage to take calls and dispatch Bernie and his brother, Eric. Eric was the driver and Bernie an EMT, a position he served in for 10 years.

A remnant of that time still stands today: a cowbell that Koshinskie rang when a call came in sits in a frame on Bernie's desk.

When the call volume increased, the business started to expand. There were more drivers, more EMTs, more office staff and, of course, more ambulances.

"A lot of family members and friends came together to help us out," Bernie Rumberger said.

AREA was responding to emergencies and transporting nursing home patients. The Leader Nursing Home signed AREA's first contract for ambulance service, and the company then expanded with similar contacts in Selinsgrove, Northumberland, Coal Township and Mount Carmel areas.

To serve patients who didn't need an ambulance, a multi-passenger wheelchair bus was purchased. The move helped AREA provide additional services to nursing homes while keeping its ambulances free for emergencies.

It was only two years into its operation when AREA signed a contract with what was then the Shamokin Communications (911) Center for 24-hour dispatch for all medical needs.

Soon after, the company expanded by purchasing the former Jack Rosini Trucking garage on Sixth Street, the place it called home until the move to its current location.

There have been many steps along the way to grow into such a large and well-recognized operation, and Rumberger recognizes that many people have contributed to that growth.

"We have been very blessed with the success of the business," he said. "It's been a great 25 years and we hope for 25 more."

Management of AREA Services include Bernard Rumberger, owner and CEO; James C. Zablosky, operations and compliance manager; Michael J. Rogers, education coordinator.

Employees of AREA services are: Garth E. Allanson, Frank P. Amarose, Judy A. Amarose, Michael Amarose, Paul M. Artman, Brian K. Bailey, Nicole J. Baker, Brian Balchunas, Jere E. Baldwin, Brian A. Barto, Greg A. Berezovske, Ryan M. Blee, Gennelle A. Bogetti, Patrick J. Burns, Katherine J. Chernago, Laken L. Derk, John H. Devine, Matthew T. Dudeck, Matthew J. Dunn, Lewis H. Ebersole, Jennifer L. Edmondson, Katrina D. Erb, Paula A. Grebush, Todd W. Heath, Rex Hepner, Clayton D. Hubler, Jennifer N. Johnson, Donald E. Kizer, Gia A. Koshinskie, Raymond J. Koshinskie, Raymond B. Koshinskie, William J. Lahr, Nichole L. Lauver, Kody J. Leisenring, Sara A. Longenberger, Herb Lutz, Kevin E. Malukas, Albert C. Mench, Daniel R. Metzger, Francis J. Miller, Craig Moran, Joshua R. Mowery, Rob Moyle, Shawn E. Myers, Robert W. Neidig, Damian Ober, Cleveland R. Parks, Jesse D. Paul, Kimberly A. Pufnak, Dylan S. Roeder, Bruce E. Rogers, Michael J. Rogers, Michelle L. Rogers-Hare, Bernard D. Rumberger, Bernard J. Rumberger, Chad W. Rumberger, Eric T. Rumberger, Devin M. Scicchitano, Ronald J. Sencen, Dennis L. Seroskie, Tyfanny A. Shultzaberger, Matthew R. Siko, Amanda L. Stancavage, Kyle Stavinski, Linda Steele, Ryan D. Strohecker, Gary L. Thomas, Jeffrey Thompson, Tracy L. Tobias, Eugene J. Tonte, Crystal N. Ulrich, Gregory T. Valania, James G. Vetovich, Randy J. Wagner, Jeremy J. Walthes, Christina M. Weaver, Sandra M. Weaver, Amanda Williams, Mark J. Williams, James C. Zablosky and James J. Zalewski.