An EMT training course that was to be offered jointly by the Warren County Department of Public Safety and the Warren Forest Higher Education Council this spring has been canceled due to a lack of enrollment.
Scott Rose, deputy director of the Warren County Department of Public Safety, spoke about the training program at the Warren County Council of Governments meeting on Wednesday night.
"(We) have had trouble the last few years getting people interested in these classes," he said.
The courses are required to run through a community college and Warren County often works through the Community College of Allegheny County. The last course was held in 2011.
"We have not put an EMT out since May 2011," said Rose, explaining that his office partnered with Hi-Ed in an attempt to boost program interest. "We mailed out 25 (to) 30 packets to people who had called in asking. As of Monday, I had one student with a completed application."
Asked whether the barrier is the cost, Rose replied, "With the new EMS act, the hours are longer now."
The program previously was 125 hours but has been bumped to 200. Additionally, immunizations and background checks are now required and were not previously. Rose said the practical testing requirements now consume an entire Saturday and travel is required as written testing is only offered in Clarion and Erie.
"It's something we are going to have to address because I know we have lost EMTs in that time and we are not gaining any," Rose said.
Clarendon Borough Councilman Paul Pascuzzi asked how many students would be required to hold the course.
"They require 15," said Rose, (but) might permit 12-13.
The class costs $800.
"In the fall we'll try again," said Rose. "We are not alone."
"A lot of the problem... is public perception. When you call 911, who do you want to come to your house? They want a trauma surgeon," said Warren County Public Safety Director Todd Lake. "That's where it is coming, a lot of wanting top everything. People want instant gratification and they want the best. It is so expensive to run a service."
"If EmergyCare goes bankrupt, we're in big trouble," Pascuzzi said, "and they could."
"It is not a lucrative (business) which is why there are hardly any private ambulance services," said Lake.
"They can't do it because of Medicare," Pascuzzi said. "Our municipal officials need to understand. We need to get this information to the public sooner rather than later" so that they are not surprised when their taxes go up once volunteers can no longer provide these services.
"It's only going to get worse," said Pascuzzi. "It has to get better."