Meadville Tribune

Local News

January 17, 2006

Help Wanted

Emergency medical services in dire need of paramedics and first responders

1/18/06 — Imagine calling for an ambulance in an emergency, but having to wait a half-hour for one to arrive instead of just minutes.

It’s that type of situation EMMCO West Regional Emergency Medical Services Council and Pennsylvania Emergency Medical Service Council are trying to avoid.

EMS councils across Pennsylvania are in the midst of a recruitment campaign. Some ambulance companies are dangerously close to not being able to quickly respond to 911 calls.

EMMCO West created an ad campaign that will be aired in movie theaters and on local cable television channels.

“All of the ambulance services are in need of paramedics, EMTs (emergency medical technicians) and first responders,” said Bill McClincy, executive director of EMMCO West. It covers Crawford, Erie, Mercer, Venango, Clarion, Forest and Warren counties.

On average, EMS organizations have two or three full-time EMT or paramedic positions open at a time — affecting both paid and volunteer ambulance services.

“Volunteer organizations are even in a worse situation — particularly getting daytime crews,” McClincy said.

That’s something Daniel Bresee, chief of Cochranton Volunteer Ambulance Service, knows first-hand.

“Seventeen years ago (when Bresee became chief) I could get two ambulances out the door Monday through Friday,” he said. “Now it’s tough to get one out the door.”

It’s a combination of factors that’s pushing down EMS personnel numbers, Bresee said.

For some families, both spouses may work, plus one or both may work two jobs, he said. They may be trying to raise a family, too.

“To get training in, make a living and raise a family is tough,” Bresee said.

Training for a first responder covering basic first aid takes 58 hours; EMT training, the next level providing basic pre-hospital care, takes 130 additional hours; and paramedic training takes about 1,300 hours of training after EMT certification.

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