SAXTON, Pa. (WTAJ) — A lack of EMS volunteers in Saxton is causing concern for local officials.
Last week, the Saxton Borough Council met to discuss the need for EMS volunteers in the community, organized by the Saxton Volunteer Fire Company. The EMS division currently services seven municipalities in Bedford and Huntingdon Counties.
“They have been, like many ambulance services that are volunteer across the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, having a difficult time in getting volunteers to serve in these positions,” Mayor of Saxton Borough Alan Smith said.
In 2021, the company estimated receiving over 600 dispatch calls.
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“When you can only respond to, maybe, 75% of the calls, it’s not a good thing,” Treasurer and Fire Marshall at Saxton Volunteer Fire Company Tom Stoudnour said.
Stoudnour said this is cause for concern. Especially due to the large portion of senior residents serviced by the EMS division.
“If it’s your grandmother or your father that has a problem, and they’re down on the ground, how important is it for you to get somebody there to help? It’s extremely important,” Stoudnour said.
An increase in hours and fees to train new volunteers is one reason the company is seeing a decline.
“The cost of taking a class went from $45 a year-or $45 a class to $925 a class,” Stoudnour said. “The classes went from 81 hours to now, they’re close to 200 hours.”
The borough is considering a contract with the Hollidaysburg Ambulance Service to meet the number of calls.
“This is 25 minutes, 30 minutes, half-an-hour away.” Smith said. “Which in responding to people in an emergency crisis who are in peril, every moment, every minute, makes a tremendous difference.”
The borough will be meeting with EMT Services on Sunday to continue working toward potential solutions.
“I would rather have somebody come to my home, to my family’s home with 40 or 50 hours of service, than have nobody show up,” Smith said.