EMS raising concerns over lack of funding

Published: Aug. 9, 2023 at 6:50 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - West Virginia EMS workers in a state of disarray saying they’re dealing with slow response times and a lack of the necessary resources to respond to emergency situations.

Chris Hall, executive director of the West Virginia EMS coalition said he sees issues like these daily.

“EMS is really struggling, I had an EMS director call me on Monday night. She had three patients on hold with 911, including a potential heart attack victim,” Hall said. “No ambulances available in her county, none of the surrounding counties had an ambulance available to send for mutual aid .”

Hall said that call of a supposed heart attack patient was forced to wait for an hour and twenty five minutes to receive care from EMS providers.

A bill that would have helped fund EMS agencies in West Virginia died in the last hours of the 2023 regular session.

Hall said more than 200 West Virginia fire and EMS workers sent a letter to Governor Justice, urging him to include EMS funding in the special session.

“Unfortunately, he elected to not place that measure on the call and provided funding directly to fire instead,” he said. “EMS did not receive any of those funds.”

WSAZ asked the governor why EMS was not included in his initial proposal.

“From the EMS, they came to the regular session, they asked for the 10 million, we got them the 10 million,” Justice said. “Now we are trying to do something for the fire departments, we will double right back and try to help them, I’m a believer and a beneficiary of all the great work they do , we are not going to leave them out.”

The final proposal approved 12 million dollars to first responders. From there members of the Legislature took action with an amendment that would include the words “Or emergency services” to half of the money that passed.

“We added back in that the county commission could apply to their ems needs as they see fit, so if you have a county that has a higher ems need then they have a fire need, then they have the ability to adjust that revenue to fund it as they need to,” state Sen. Eric Tarr, R-Putnam, said.

Hall said the bill does not include all EMS providers, only ones associated with a fire department, leaving out independent or non-profit EMS services. He said he just wants EMS providers to be heard and for this issue to be fixed.

“Patients are at risk because of inadequate resources and we hope we can find a solution sooner rather than later,” he said.