Erie County's Ambulance Response Problems Add Urgency to Task Force Talks

February 19, 2020

Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Meanwhile, the state Health Department issued a statement Tuesday acknowledging first responder recruitment problems in parts of Pennsylvania, but said there is no minimum standard for required EMS coverage. Each municipality makes that call by itself.

“Local EMS operations vary significantly from one municipality to another based on community needs, available resources and decisions from local municipal officials,” spokesman Nate Wardle wrote in the statement. “There is not a required standard of coverage for a community.”

EMS recruitment and retention is a decades-old problem that may have accelerated in recent years, said Howard Mell, a physician and spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians in Irving, Texas.

“If no one shows up, you’re on your own,” said Dr. Mell, who is also a firefighter-paramedic. “That’s a harsh reality that’s happening more and more.

“Obviously, the solution is always money. We don’t have a problem paying somebody to pick up our garbage, but gosh forbid we have to pay someone to pick up our patients.”

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