ELYSBURG - Elysburg Fire Department EMS was recently recognized by the Pennsylvania Pediatric Voluntary Recognition Program at the master level, the highest obtainable level.

The ambulance service has additional pediatric-specific medical equipment on its ambulances, employees are required to obtain additional pediatric continuing education training hours annually, all employees must undergo annual child abuse clearances and criminal background checks and the service must conduct no less than three community outreach programs per year.

By carrying additional equipment not currently on the Pennsylvania Department of Health's required equipment list, Elysburg Fire Department EMS is demonstrating that it is truly prepared for pediatric patients and is ready to respond to any and all emergency situations involving the state's youngest citizens, according to the program.

The Pennsylvania Pediatric Voluntary Recognition Program has recognized 64 EMS agencies across the state in its initial phase.

"We have always been known to go above and beyond the required expectations of a traditional EMS service," Matthew Siko, paramedic and EMS operational manager of the Elysburg Fire Department EMS, was quoted in a press release. "We're always looking for ways to improve our standard of care."

Siko noted that the organization provides EMS services to Knoebels Amusement Resort, Southern Columbia Area School District and child care facilities.

"It makes sense that this was our next step because of how many children we treat annually," Siko said. "Although we have had the continued unconditional support of our department during this process, the true appreciation goes to our staff. This recognition puts extra responsibility on them and they accept it willingly."

Every year, more than 70,000 children are transported by ambulance in Pennsylvania. This means that almost every seven minutes a child is being taken to the hospital with a potentially life-threatening medical condition.

In order to ensure that EMS agencies within the state are prepared for pediatrics, the Pennsylvania Emergency Medical Services for Children program, in partnership with the Department of Health, Bureau of EMS and the Pennsylvania Emergency Health Services Council, has created the Pediatric Voluntary Recognition Program to recognize EMS agencies that go above and beyond current requirements to deliver excellence in emergency medical care to children within the state.